Monday, 20 June 2011

Voting for God

As I sat in Lincoln Cathedral yesterday, listening to a sermon being delivered by the Dean, Philip Buckler, something that he said stuck (which is an achievement given that I have been coated with a rather embarrassing Sermon Teflon). He spoke of the appetite that the world has to seek an elected God. 

He was, I think, referring to the proliferation of the Western Ideal - democracy, and how we apply that to our faith. As he commented, we judge God's 'electability' on the basis of the Bums-On-Seat Quotient - which is to say, that if church  numbers go down (as they seem to, sadly) that God is somehow failing in the approval ratings. We are, step by little step, moving towards a Bruce Almighty scenario (the Dean didn't say that bit, I hasten to add). 

I blame Richard Dawkins who, oddly, seeks to take the proverbial knife to the proverbial pistol fight, claiming that our pistols don't exist and that he left with the only viable alternative, that we is all dead and the duel is done. Silly man. What he has done, though, quite skillfully, is to make God's existence contingent on our belief and our willingness to stand up and vote. Ergo, God exists because Christians defend Him/Her - ergo, if they didn't God wouldn't. You get the idea. 

Christians are celebrating the Holy Trinity at this time. Like so many things, (or indeed all things when we talk of matters of faith), we are pinning our beliefs on the innately un-provable. There is nothing specifically scriptural that 'proves' that the Trinity exists. The three-in-one idea is a human construct, born of a desire to understand our faith, draw into a closer relationship with God and to piece together the God who makes Him/Herself known to us in light touches throughout all ages. Let us not forget too that we can no more 'prove' the Trinity, or indeed God, than we can the wind. We know of both because of their effect upon other things. Those things that are separate to God, the Trinity and to wind (Heb 'ruach', the other name for the Holy Spirit) are the only things that point to the 'inner truth' or existence of them.

But I digress. There have been times when, in arguments with my wife or an employer, that they have claimed not to believe me. Fine, I would retort - the truth is not dependent upon your belief, and that you don't believe doesn't mean that I am not telling you the truth. Much as it annoyed them no end, it is the basic perspective that I hold in matters of the faith. Professor Dawkins may wish to spend him life telling the world that God-believers are deluded, but God is not injured or enhanced by a single believer. God is. Christians should be aware of the danger, though, of being drawn into a 'prove it' argument. Confessions of faith are part of what we are and what we are called to do - but not because of trickery or the subterfuge of those who claim no belief. After all, our confessions are of faith - and the harder we try to 'prove', the greater our failure. I do not live a moment of my own life to prove God's existence. What I am called to prove is that I love God, and I can only do that by living my life in that light. 

And what if God were outvoted? Would he leave us all to our own devices and switch out the lights? 

Heaven forbid.

1 comment:

  1. I think that you argued that very well. Faith (and added to that, belief) are personal choices. Just because one person says that you cannot prove something does not mean that they are right. You could, in fact, reply, then prove it doesn't! I would like to see Mr Dawkins do that. I do not condone those that try and impose their own beliefs (as not believing is still a belief!) on others and try to disrupt two thousand years of faith. It is a fact that Britain is becoming more secular, but it is only a very small part of the big picture. An individual's faith cannot be taken away and no matter how much rhetoric is thrown out there, for true believers it is just a small voice in a large room. (I think I just confused myself there!!)



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