Why I Still Believe Even When I Don’t

When it comes to God(s), either there is one (or many) or there isn’t one or any. The tricky part is knowing for certain. In my about me page I quote something I once heard while going through a time of questioning my belief in God. The way this person positions the issue about whether or not God is exists is compelling to me. I like it primarily because it frames the question “does God exist” in a way that joins us all together in one thing we have in common regarding the non-existence or existence of a God (or Gods). Ignorance. We don’t know for certain. At least not in the same way I know I am presently typing this blog post or that it is snowing outside or that two of my teens just emerged from their bedroom.

We have ignorance in common and therefore an honest answer to the question of the existence of God or Gods should fall along the lines of (still quoting from what I heard a few years back), “I don’t know but I think not,” or “I don’t know but I believe so,” or “I don’t know, and I don’t care.” This is perhaps oversimplified but I really think it captures the essence and goes a long way toward bringing us together even if we don’t land on the same side of the answer. We all come to the question from a particular angle. We each have our story. Stories that have shaped us and influenced us in very real ways. It’s a beautiful thing really. Rather than fostering a “us vs them” approach it encourages openness and understanding of the other.

I know there are complexities here and that this question continues to be sliced and diced in many ways but we can still talk about it.

Today, my honest answer when anyone asks if I believe, or still believe, in the existence of God is that I do believe God exists although I am not certain of it. I’ve tried not to believe and even on those days where I am frustrated with Christianity (especially American Trumpian Christianity) and would like to toss it all away completely, I can’t. Even though I am ashamed of much of what passes as Christianity these days, I still can’t toss it away. There are many days when I honestly wish I could. I just can’t. I’m still left with many questions but that is true for all of us regardless of where we fall on the belief in God spectrum.

So what is it that keeps me coming back to believing God exists? What is it that keeps me holding on to Christianity and to the Jesus story in particular? Maybe I’m just crazy or maybe I’m just in tune with reality. I won’t poll you on that!

To be continued …

War on Christmas?

Ce qui suit est en English.

One thing I love about being francophone around Christmas time is that the french word for Christmas doesn’t have “Christ” or “Jesus” in it. Why is that such a great thing? I’m glad you asked.

Here’s the short answer. It’s annoying enough to have to hear the platitudes about the supposed war on Christmas and the outrage around keeping “Christ” in xmas in one language, it would simply be double the annoyance if the same play on words could be done in french. Noël is the way to go.

Platitude – a remark or statement, especially one with moral content, that has been used too often to be interesting or thoughtful. – a flat, dull, or trite remark, especially one uttered as if it were fresh or profound.

The only people waging war on Christmas are those who keep using that statement and making that accusation. For some it comes from a well intentioned place. Christmas in the Christian tradition is about celebrating the birth of Jesus but let’s not forget we hijacked someone else’s holiday and called it our own. Many great traditions around Christmas have come from that and it’s awesome. I do think that Christianity is in many ways responsable for what most would refer to as the “magic of Christmas”. When we say that, we’re not necessarily referring to Jesus. Rather, we’re referring to the spirit of the holiday season, the coming together, the lights in the dark, the food filled tables (for those of us who have that luxury), the gifts, etc.

However, this is not an excuse for annoying the crap out of everyone during the holidays. When Jesus is your Christmas, you’ll be happy to wish your neighbour a Happy Holiday. When Jesus is your Christmas, you won’t get bent out of shape if you see “X-Mas” on a billboard or commercial. When Jesus is your Christmas, you will love your neighbour rather than make a fuss about how your neighbour chooses to use, or not to use, the word Christmas. When Jesus is your Christmas, you’ll be more concerned about how baby Jesus compels you to love and less worried about whether there is a manger scene at the city hall.

True, for many Jesus is not part of the equation at Christmas just like he is not intentionally part of the equation any other day of the year. But that’s ok.

If Jesus is your Christmas, take a deep breath. Ask yourself if in your fit of rage about how someone else celebrates the holiday you maybe are less in the holiday spirit than they are. You see, it’s one thing to talk about or shout about where you think Jesus should be during the Holiday season. It’s quite another to bring peace.

If Jesus means anything to you at all, I invite you to stop worrying so much about whether or not he matters to the person next to you. Don’t divide, bring together. Just live and let your joy, your hope, your love flow. In the process you will find that same joy, that same hope and that same love permeating around, even in xmas and happy holidays.

In the words of Bryan Adams, “There’s something about Christmas time.”

To all of you I say … Joyeux Noël and a Happy New Year!

John MacArthur craint les femmes

Dans le milieu où j’ai grandi, John MacArthur est une vedette (pour ne pas dire un dieu). Lorsque j’étais pasteur je me suis vite tanné d’entendre parler de lui et de voir a quel point la dénomination se prosternait pratiquement devant lui et a peu près tout ce qu’il pouvait dire et écrire. Je comprends pourquoi il a tant d’influence. Ses livres sont depuis longtemps traduit en français et propagé parmi les francophones. Pendant des années, les options de livres chrétiens francophones étaient plus ou moins limitées alors ce n’est pas pour rien que MacArthur a laissé sa marque.

Quelqu’un lui a demandé récemment de commenter l’influence de Beth Moore. Sa réaction immédiate fut de dire que Beth Moore ferait bien de :

Go home! There is no case that can be made biblically for a woman preacher. Period. Paragraph. End of discussion.

(Retourne chez toi! Il n’y a pas d’argument qui puisse être fait a partir de la bible pour justifier les femmes qui prêche. Point. Fin de la discussion.

John MacArthur

Si tu es une femme dans l’église, selon MacArthur tu ferais bien de te taire et de prendre ta place silencieusement et dans la soumission. MacArthur considère qu’une femme a qui l’on donne trop d’influence en-dehors du foyer est une menace pour l’homme. En voulant clarifier ses propos concernant Beth Moore, il a prêché un message en disant que :

Empowering women makes men weak … weak men make everybody vulnerable to danger.

(donner du pouvoir aux femmes rend les hommes faibles) et que (les hommes faibles rendent tout le monde vulnérable au danger).

John MacArthur

Il n’avait pas terminé! Il a aussi dit :

Women who pastor and women who preach in the church are a disgrace.

(Les femmes qui sont pasteur et les femmes qui prêchent dans l’église sont une honte.)

John MacArthur

Attendez, c’est pas encore fini. Pour MacArthur, donner de l’influence a une femme est égale a donner une place d’influence a un enfant.

Let me tell you something, if children are in charge, we’re in trouble. If women are in charge, we’re in trouble.

When you overthrow the divine order, the results are always disastrous. And again, it’s not anti-women any more than it’s anti-children. But it’s a divine judgment on a nation that its young and its women are in power.

John MacArthur

Alors les femmes, étant donné que MacArthur parle au nom de Dieu, désolé de vous le dire, mais selon lui vous n’êtes que des petites filles qui doivent être garder dans le silence de peur que vos paroles puissent enlever le pouvoir aux hommes.

En écoutant les extraits de sa prédication, j’en avais mal au ventre. C’est une véritable honte. Il manque un peu de Jésus dans le christianisme de MacArthur.

Alors on s’en va où au juste? Bien, j’oserais dire que si l’église continue de tirer son influence d’hommes comme MacArthur, nous allons nul part. Heureusement, il y a d’autres personnes d’influence qui ont eu le courage de reprendre MacArthur et de promouvoir un différent message. Nous en avons besoin. J’aimerais bien entendre les leaders chrétiens francophone dire haut et forts qu’ils s’opposent aux paroles de MacArthur. (certain l’ont peut-être déjà fait mais je ne le sais pas)

Le christianisme et la société seraient mieux servi si MacArthur appliquait ses propres conseils à lui-même et se taisait.

Plusieurs articles ont été écrit en réponse au propos de MacArthur. En voici quelques uns:

https://christiantoday.com/article/women-pastors-are-a-disgrace-says-john-macarthur/133625.htm;

https://friendlyatheist.patheos.com/2019/11/14/christian-preacher-when-women-take-over-a-culture-men-become-weak/;

https://relevantmagazine.com/culture/john-macarthur-if-women-are-in-charge-were-in-trouble/

Toi, qu’est-ce que ça te fait de lire et d’entendre de telles choses?

What exactly is an evangelical?

I think I have a like/hate relationship with labels. I like them because sometimes generalizing, which is what labels do, is a good way to help me get a sense of things. I hate them because they never tell the whole story and I can easily corner myself and others in them. I especially don’t like being cornered with a label by others.

Labels that describe temperaments and personality profiles, for example, are lots of fun and I think most of us enjoy the way they help us understand ourselves and others. Other labels however, like ‘Evangelical’, are not always helpful and can often be confusing and misleading. Perhaps that is because the label is simultaneously becoming less and less precise while also being heralded by some who define it very narrowly by including with it many details that are not always true about all those who would otherwise be comfortable with the label.
Kurt Willems is a blogger I enjoy reading and recommend. A few years ago he posted ‘You Might Be an Evangelical Reject if …‘. I remember really enjoying that post. It struck a chord with me and helped give me freedom to think outside of what I mostly knew, at that time, as evangelical. I was becoming restless and the post helped calm me down a little 🙂
Well, Kurt has written a new post along the same lines. I’d be curious to know what you think about it. Maybe you’ll want to read the original one first.
There is much about the label that I like but there is also much that spooks me. I agree with Kurt that it is becoming less and less helpful as a label mostly because of those who want to own it for themselves while being very narrow in how they define it. Am I comfortable being pegged as a ‘Evangelical’? Well, I guess it depends on who’s asking and what the frame of reference is.
So what exactly is an evangelical? Who gets to define it? Is it even useful trying?