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As an Evangelical, what are your thoughts about the statements: “I believe in God” and “I know that God exists”?
My thoughts about the two statements, “I believe in God” and “I know that God exists,” could be summed up by two words, ‘ambiguous’ for the first declaration, and ‘apprehension’ for the second. I’ll share my personal views after I unpack my reasons for selecting those alliterative summations.
‘I believe in God’ can mean anything from intellectual belief that such a being does exist to a firm spiritual conviction that He not only exists, but loves and cares for His creation, and is the most important aspect of one’s spirituality.
I believe in Kansas as a state that exists but I’ve never visited it or seriously studied anything about it. I know that Dorothy hailed from Kansas but I rarely hear news referring to it, and nothing that I do know has come first hand from my attempts to seek knowledge of the place.
On the other hand, I believe in photography. It’s a passion of mine and I spend a great deal of time reading and studying about techniques and other aspects of the art. I think it’s a remarkable resource for artistic creativity and still have a desire to learn after spending over 30 years behind a lens.
My personal thoughts about the first statement, are more like my belief in photography than in my familiarity with Kansas. I seek knowledge about God and trust Him to have an integral guiding role in my life. His will, as I can understand it, is a top priority of mine, and I often find myself acting in a way I think He would. When people look at me, I don’t want them to be wary of my behavior; I want to be a showcase of God’s love to others.
So how about the other statement? I think saying “I know that God exists” can sound arrogant and that makes me uneasy, especially when the statement is couched in language making it seem like the person claiming knowledge figured everything out using their own intelligence. And making it even worse, they often portray the non-believer as someone who has no excuse for their disbelief. That’s not how I understand the God I believe in.
There’s a remarkable passage attributed to the Apostle Paul in his letter to Christians in the city of Ephesus. He lets them know their future with God is assured but not because of anything they have done. He attributes it to faith, and states that faith was a gift from God. He goes on to say the reason for the gift was so that no one could boast about his or her place with God. Elsewhere in the New Testament, faith is defined as “confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”
So, yes I believe God exists. But not like I know my children live or my wife is in the next room planning our 50th wedding anniversary. I believe he fulfilled those passages I mentioned personally in my life and now, doubt is beyond question; certainty has taken its place.
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