A Spirituality blog from our Community

From Mark Laynesmith, Anglican Chaplain:

Abraham had faith and obeyed God… he left for a country he had never seen” (Hebrews 11.8)

What does it mean to ‘believe in God’?

Does it mean saying ‘yes’ to certain doctrines? That ‘x’ is true, but ‘y’ is false…? (like ‘I believe UFOs exist?’) Well perhaps there is some truth in that. But only secondarily. More importantly, firstly, ‘belief’ means something much more basic, much more personal. When my eldest son was learning to cycle he had to believe in me – believe that I would only let go of the saddle once he could balance, believe that I would run alongside him and not leave him if he fell. This kind of belief is not so much ‘belief in’ my existence; no: it is more like ‘trust’. He trusted in me. This is the kind of belief that comes first: belief in, rather than belief about.

I suspect there are lots of people who ‘believe in God’ (and lots who ‘believe in’ UFOs!) But how many of us believe in -trust in- God? I mean really day to day trust that, despite everything, God is there (even beyond the very worst thing, death itself)?I know most days that kind of belief, that kind of trust, is hard for me. It goes against my own instincts to try to keep in control of my life. It involves ‘letting go and letting God’. But, strange to admit, every time I really do enter into that trust (and I’m often dragged there kicking and screaming, all else having failed!)- you know: it turns out things are ok. Not always perfect, just (oddly) ok.

I think of Abraham- entering an unknown future, an unknown and dusty place, having nothing else to do but to completely trust in God. And from it, something remarkable happens: a new people are born. It’s why he is held us as a model. And so to us. Once again here is another ‘unknown’: a new term (and for some a new place), and a new invitation to try out this radical, deep and disturbing thing: believing in God, having trust, that behind it all (the panic, the nerves, the anxiety and the excitement) there is God -our deep centre, our source, our life and our end- ever present.


View the next part of Theology and Doughnuts.


Comments on: "Thought for the Week 03/10/2010" (2)

  1. The Greek word used in the bible that we translate as ‘belief’ has the etymology of ‘holding dear’- accepting something as good with one’s heart (the core of one’s self). The function played by the word in early Christianity was then that of ‘allegiance’, being prepared to accept something as true on at least a symbolic understanding. – Cupitt, Don, (1980), ‘Taking Leave of God’, London, SCM, p. 153; see also: Buckareff, Andrei, (2010), ‘Belief, Acceptance, and Panentheism’ (an interview with Luke Muehlhauser), URL: http://commonsenseatheism.com/?p=6432

  2. “‘I believe in God’… isn’t the first in a set of answers to the question ‘How many ideas or pictures have I inside my head?’ as if God were the name of one more doubtful thing like UFOs and ghosts to add to the list of the furniture of my imagination. It is the beginning of a series of statements about where I find the anchorage of my life, where I find solid ground, home” (Rowan Williams, ‘Tokens of Trust’)

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