Sunday, 1 January 2012

Is that really so?

I have been trying to wrap my head around what is true, and have found myself in a place where I do not know anything. I start praying out of habit, but then questioning if there is even a God. The thing is I want to believe in God, and in Christ, that causes me no problem. The problem is that I have no way of knowing if they are real. I want my beliefs to accurately reflect reality, but I don't know how to make that so.
When I think about Monks through ages, they spent their whole lives trying to know God, and yet they all had different ideas about certain things. I have been reading Thomas A. Kempt (The Imitation of Christ) and I think that he is wrong about things. Namely that he seems to think that he must work a lot to be able to go to heaven and he feels no security in what Christ has already done. Who am I to say that he is wrong? If he could be wrong about something, then I could be wrong about something. I am sure that I am wrong in some of my beliefs, but then I fear, what if I am wrong about some of the major things I believe. What if there is no God. How can I know?
My life is centred around my faith in Jesus. My reasons for everything I do rest on my faith in God. I would be lost without my beliefs. I am lost. Even my thoughts of trying to work this week are rather foggy as my perception of God is foggy.
A lot of people have a lot of strong believes in a lot of different things, and someone who thinks differently than me isn’t stupid, unlearned or evil. They might even be right, just as I might be right.
I have no reason to doubt that God exists. I have no evidence against Christ, but I am sure that I must believe many wrong things, because there are so many different beliefs out there and I am not always right. The question then is which of my beliefs reflect reality, and which ones should just be thrown out?


  1. Interesting... I have read Imitation by Thomas à Kempis off and on ever since I was a teen (I'm now in my mid 50s) and I don't recall thinking he believed we had to work to get to Heaven. His point is that we are here on this earth to work and not to be a burden to one another, as it says it in 2 Thessalonians, Chapter 3:8-10: ‘nor did we eat food received free from anyone. On the contrary, in toil and drudgery, night and day we worked, so as not to burden any of you. Not that we do not have the right. Rather, we wanted to present ourselves as a model for you, so that you might imitate us. In fact, when we were with you, we instructed you that if anyone was unwilling to work, neither should that one eat.’ The Benedictine Rule—the foundation of all monastic life—calls for a balance between work and prayer, something very difficult for anyone to achieve. Most of life is a dance, trying to find that delicate balance.

    The reason you are having so much trouble ‘wrapping your mind around what is true’ is because Truth isn’t a thing. He is a Person, the Person of Jesus Christ. When you are willing to accept that, and truly believe in Him, the rest will come. Belief comes first. It precedes knowledge. Read the Desert Fathers, the Fathers of the Church, the Mothers too. When we embrace Him with our whole hearts, then He begins to reveal Himself—as happens in any relationship, only this will like no relationship you have ever had or can even imagine.

    As for the 'Your beliefs are fine and so are mine' here you are falling into the trap many do today. It's called moral relativism. And yet there is objective wrong and right. There always has been and there always will be. We as mere transitory beings on this planet cannot make something right or wrong with words. Read Joseph Pieper’s “Abuse of Language, Abuse of Power” for some perspective.

  2. I just got this sense from Kempis (maybe he never did say it out-right) that he was never sure if he had done enough to go to heaven. Maybe that is just how I read it.

    I have considered the idea of Truth being a person, namely Christ Jesus. I do like that idea, but then I oft wonder who is Christ and how can I know him. I have oft thought that I can know about about Jesus without actually knowing him, but my desire is to know him. Yet I feel like in all my years of claiming to have a relationship with Jesus, I have put in the effort, but he has not. I feel like God freely speaks with some people, and not with others. I feel like I am not one of his favourites. Having a relationship with God sounds great. But when it is just one sided, it gets exhausting.

    I have always felt that moral relativism is illogical (though I have also felt that it would be nice if we could just all be right), but that leads me to wonder: how do I know if I am following the right path, or even the right Jesus. He said he was the good shepard, and that his sheep know his voice, but I am not sure that I do.

    well, that's where I'm at.

  3. Yeti,

    I can’t speak for Kempis and I don’t recall getting the same impression from reading him that you speak of, so what you perceive could be your greater sensitivity, some personal or medieval insecurity of the author, attributable to the individual relationship the monk had with Our Lord or go back to his own interpretation of Scripture—right or wrong. Perhaps Kempis was thinking of Revelation 22:14: ‘Blessed are they who wash their robes so as to have the right to the tree of life and enter the city through its gates.’ Or maybe, James 2:10-13: ‘For whoever keeps the whole law, but falls short in one particular, has become guilty in respect to all of it. For he who said, “You shall not commit adultery,” also said, “You shall not kill.” Even if you do not commit adultery but kill, you have become a transgressor of the law. So speak and so act as people who will be judged by the law of freedom. For the judgment is merciless to one who has not shown mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.’ One must always read passages like this in context. In any event, assuming he was under this misapprehension, we will never know where it came from. That this and other misconceptions come out from time to time in some people, I also don't doubt. Moving on...

    All our thoughts and desires about wanting to know Him, in fact come from Him. He is the pursuer; we the pursued. You only think you seek Him. It is He who is seeking you. From your writing, you have more of a relationship with Him than you realize. “Be still and know that I am God.” ~Psalm 46:11 Usually the best thing we can do with Him is to become as quiet, small, humble and insignificant as possible. He values true poverty, childlike simplicity, meekness, silence and trustful humility. Study His example in the Gospel and He will speak to you there.

  4. I was flipping through the imitation of Christ looking for what gave me sure an impression, and I am not sure what it was, but I guess the big point I took for it was that I could be wrong.
    I had some cool thoughts about God today, maybe I will create a new post.