Has anyone ever told you that your faith is a ‘crutch?’ I remember getting into a cab outside a central London church. The cabbie took one look at my Bible and launched into his opinion of Christianity. He explained to me that belief in God is a crutch for weak, pathetic people who don’t have the strength to take responsibility for their own lives. When I answered, “Thank you very much”, with just a hint of irony, he blustered on with, “Well, I’m just saying it for your own good. A girl like you doesn’t need religion!”
As Christians, we often talk about experiencing God directly in our lives and we view this experience as evidence for the truth of the gospel. One of the most common questions we can be asked by sceptical friends is, “What about other people’s genuine experiences of God? Isn’t it really arrogant to say that your experience of God is real but theirs is not?”
“How do you expect me to believe in God,” asked Woody Allen, “when only last week I got my tongue caught in the roller of my electric type-writer?”
There is a widespread belief around about the Bible that it is some kind of powerful patriarchal conspiracy that has been used to oppress women. As a female speaker I find that this question is frequently asked: ‘How can you as woman promote such a sexist book?’ ‘The Church has tried to keep women down!’
I am writing on the fourth anniversary of the 7/7 suicide bombing attacks in London. In a chilling videotaped statement, one of the bombers, Mohammed Sidique Khan, explained that his motivation was inextricably linked with his Islamic faith:
I am often asked how I can believe in God when there have been so many wars caused by religion. The implication is that if only people would leave behind their convictions about the existence of a God the world would be a much better, more peaceful place.
‘Faith is believing what you want to believe, yet cannot prove.’ Sadly many people, including many Christians, live with this definition of faith. For some it feels liberating. It means being able to believe in anything that you want to – and the more silly the belief is, the more faith you have.
The issue of free-will and predestination is one that has raised its head in every generation of Christians. Do we exercise choice, or has everything already been decided? The resultant mental gymnastics leave many feeling confused, and others feeling disappointed. Did you choose to read this article, or has God already determined that you will… or won’t?
It was Woody Allen who once made the remark: “What if everything is an illusion and nothing exists? In that case I definitely overpaid for my carpet.”