Can You Believe in a Personal God?
“YOU don’t need to believe in God to be a Christian . . . We are part of a revolution now, but in the 21st century the church will be without a God in the traditional sense,” explained a senior British university chaplain. He was speaking on behalf of the Sea of Faith movement to which at least one hundred British priests subscribe. These “Christian atheists” contend that religion is a creation of men and that, as one member put it, God is just “an idea.” A supernatural God no longer fits into their way of thinking.
“God is dead” was a popular slogan in the 1960’s. It reflected views of the 19th-century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche and gave many young people the excuse they wanted to do their own thing, to indulge in free love and drug abuse without moral restraint. But did such freedom lead the flower children, as they became known, to a more satisfying life of happiness?
In the same decade, Anglican bishop John A. T. Robinson published his controversial book Honest to God. Many of his fellow clerics took him to task for thinking of God “as no more than a dimension of depth in human experience.” Theology professor Keith Ward asked: “Is belief in God some sort of outmoded superstition, now discarded by the wise?” Answering his own question, he said: “Nothing is more important in religion today than to recover a knowledge of the traditional idea of God.”
Suffering and a Personal God
Many who believe in a personal God find it difficult to relate their belief to the tragedies and suffering they see. For example, in March 1996, 16 young children, along with their teacher, were gunned down and killed in Dunblane, Scotland. “I just don’t understand the will of God,” said one distraught woman. The anguish of the tragedy was expressed on a card left with flowers outside the children’s school. It carried one word, “WHY?” In answer the minister of Dunblane Cathedral said: “There can be no explanation. We cannot answer why this should have happened.”
Later the same year, a popular young Church of England clergyman was brutally killed. The Church Times reported that a stunned congregation heard the archdeacon of Liverpool speak of “hammering at God’s door with questions of why? why?” This cleric also had no words of comfort from a personal God.
What, then, are we to believe? It is rational to believe in a personal God. It is the key to answering the compelling questions raised above. We invite you to consider the evidence presented in the following article.
[Picture on page 3]
The card asked “Why?”
NEWSTEAM No. 278468/Sipa Press