Monday, April 19, 2021

Anonymous Asks (141)

“Should someone start attending a church if he or she doesn’t believe in God?”

I will add a couple more related questions: Should someone read the Bible if they don’t believe it? Should someone pray if they are not sure there is anyone out there to hear them?

And then I will answer them all the same way: Absolutely.

Information and Echo Chambers

When I intend to write about anything controversial, I like to expose myself to as many sources of available information as possible. This helps me determine which arguments are compelling and which are dismissible. And once I begin to develop a conviction one way or another, I am determined to hear the strongest possible arguments against what I am beginning to believe just to make sure there is really something to it, or, alternatively, to drop my position entirely if there turns out to be a good case against it.

If you are not willing to examine evidence for the existence of God, you will find yourself living in what amounts to an echo chamber, hearing only recycled and rephrased versions of your current reasons for not believing. A church is a pretty decent place to begin to examine and weigh evidence for the existence of God. It’s not the only place, but it’s certainly the most obvious one.

The Seeds of Faith

Faith always has a beginning. If Christians come to the Lord early in life, we may not remember exactly how our faith began; we just know it must have begun at some point because it’s still here and operative today. But whether our memory of faith’s beginning in our lives is accurate or exists at all, the fact remains that there was a time everyone who trusts in Jesus Christ for their salvation did not, following which a series of events commenced in their lives through which the Holy Spirit of God began his work in their hearts.

In short, you are in good company, or at least a very large one.

Like everything else in this world, in order to grow faith needs food, and the food that nourishes faith is the word of God: “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing from the word of Christ.” Whether we take that to mean the word about Christ or the words of Christ is unimportant: both are true, and ultimately we have to trust in the latter to believe the former, and vice versa. One would like to think that if you start attending a church, you will hear the word of God. That is not guaranteed, of course: you may find yourself attending a church that has all but completely fallen away from the faith itself. But odds are that even if you wind up in the most watered-down, blasé, modernist church setting, somebody will occasionally crack a Bible and read a few words, which is more of the Bible than you are probably getting now if you do not attend church or regularly read for yourself. If you feed even the tiniest, most miserable smidgen of faith, your faith will almost surely grow.

Church and the Word of God

Most churches are happy to welcome visitors. It is highly likely nobody will be terribly concerned if you tell them you don’t believe in God; after all, there was a time when everybody there was in that position too. Perhaps you will be fortunate enough to find yourself in a church where the word of God is taught clearly, and you may begin to find compelling reasons to believe. You may even find people who live out that word and see that their lives have been transformed in desirable ways. Alternatively, you may find things that strengthen your conviction that there is nothing much to this “God” business and which will enable you to move on in good conscience, having assured yourself that your agnosticism is sensible and well-informed.

King David wrote a psalm inviting others to “taste and see that the Lord is good!” His personal experience with God was an intense and positive one, and he believed there are great benefits in knowing and trusting him. You’ll never know if there is anything to the Christian faith unless you are willing to take a chance and expose yourself to Christians and the source of their beliefs.

So get out there …

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