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Thread: Need guidance on how to believe!

  1. #1
    tWebber
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    Need guidance on how to believe!

    Hello everyone,

    I've posted here in the past a time or two, but I have something slightly different on my mind this time around. I am currently a soft agnostic-atheist (basically a truth seeker living as an atheist would), and I would like to start off my truth seeking with Christianity. It seems good to start here (as a religion) since I know more about the faith than any other, it's the world's largest, and it seems to have some wonderful, respected philosophers backing it. I should say my MAIN reason for this endeavor is not to know the truth; it's to avoid a "hell."

    My question to you all is this: How (or by what way) am I supposed to come to intellectual belief in Christ? How is this normally done?

    For me, examining the evidence won't work since I don't feel intelligent enough to sift through what has caused top intellectuals to disagree with each other. If the world's smartest disagree on how to assess the evidence, there's no way I am going to come to a conclusion that way. All that reading apologetic works does is leave me more skeptical. God is essentially hidden.

    Since He seems to be hidden, the only option I can think of is testing Him somehow, or there being some way that He will reveal himself to me such that it brings me to an intellectual belief. But will He reveal Himself to me if I ask in prayer (God supposedly doesn't hear prayers of the unsaved though)? Is that even Biblical? And the MAIN issue for me is that if He does reveal himself, I might attribute it to "wishful thinking" or "coincidence" or some other psychological process - as in if we are looking for something to be true, our mind will play tricks and we will "see" what we expect or want to see, although it may not actually signify anything out of the ordinary. Belief eludes me.

    And the "sensus divinitatis" doesn't seem to be a thing since I feel that God's presence isn't obvious.

    Another idea is the He is hiding himself from me because of my sin. So what, I am supposed to live like a saint and see if He comes closer?

    I seriously don't understand how we are supposed to come to belief. I appreciate hearing your thoughts on my predicament.

  2. #2
    tWebber Christianbookworm's Avatar
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    Hi!
    If it weren't for the Resurrection of Jesus, we'd all be in DEEP TROUBLE!

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    Must...have...caffeine One Bad Pig's Avatar
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    I would say that God absolutely hears the prayers of the unsaved. He may respond positively only to those willing to place their trust in Him, but He hears all the same. And I wouldn't say that God hides himself from us because of our sin; it's more that we try to hide from God because of our sin.

    How do we come to belief? As an Eastern Orthodox Christian, I'd say, "come and see." Find an Orthodox church, and attend a service. A church is a spiritual hospital, meant for healing those who are spiritually sick - and we all are, to some degree.
    Enter the Church and wash away your sins. For here there is a hospital and not a court of law. Do not be ashamed to enter the Church; be ashamed when you sin, but not when you repent. Ė St. John Chrysostom

    Veritas vos Liberabit<>< Learn Greek <>< Look here for an Orthodox Church in America<><Ancient Faith Radio

    I recommend you do not try too hard and ...research as little as possible. Such weighty things give me a headache. - Shunyadragon, Baha'i apologist

  4. Amen Christianbookworm, Adrift, Shaney777 amen'd this post.
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    tWebber
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    Quote Originally Posted by Christianbookworm View Post
    Hi!
    Hey there! :)

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    Quote Originally Posted by One Bad Pig View Post
    I would say that God absolutely hears the prayers of the unsaved. He may respond positively only to those willing to place their trust in Him, but He hears all the same. And I wouldn't say that God hides himself from us because of our sin; it's more that we try to hide from God because of our sin.

    How do we come to belief? As an Eastern Orthodox Christian, I'd say, "come and see." Find an Orthodox church, and attend a service. A church is a spiritual hospital, meant for healing those who are spiritually sick - and we all are, to some degree.
    Thank you for response and advice!

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    I really appreciate your question. I always labeled myself a Christian since childhood and used to pray all the time until the end of my teen years. The decade of my twenties I didn't think 'much' about God. I was raising children and busy. Somewhere late twenties early thirties I found myself with 'life questions' (much like your post reminds me of). That's when I started seeking information and answers. I sought knowledge much like you through forums and books. I also prayed for understanding. The first few years I had a sort of cynical attitude. That was my anger at what I couldn't understand. I would say there was not much growth during those years. I wasn't letting knowledge in. It was a journey of forums, reading, praying, crying, praying angrily, praying desperately, reading more....I read many books about the Bible before actually reading scripture. It was like I wanted to prepare myself (soul and mind) beforehand. That was a few years. Media killed my soul with bad news as I tried to reconcile my faith with evil. More years of seeking Godís wisdom has helped me with this in particular.
    It's only now, I would say probably 8 years later that I can see the huge change all this search for truth had on me. I am not the same person AT ALL. I have changed so much and still will, even though now my learning is not one of desperation but I love to learn more of God, my heart is no longer pained. (another gift I just realized) I believe a lot of the spiritual understanding is the gift of the promise of Mathew 7:7. If I didn't purposefully think back on how I used to be, on a bad day I could be misled into thinking I didn't change at all. Now, I'm very much at peace. wow. I can't even believe it. For me, this journey took about a decade. For others, it can be much shorter or much longer. That doesnít matter as long as you keep searching. Have hope when you do. Thatís important. Some people (I know these people) are just born with this beautiful faith that they grow up with and take with them wherever they go up until adulthood.

    You thought about these things in your head first and by posting you are taking the step of seeking. And thatís how you start. I once visited a church different from my denomination years ago when I first moved into my new neighborhood about 7 yrs ago and loved it, I only went 2 or 3 times but a few years later when I went back I didnít feel at home at all. My church was home and how could I have liked this church was the thought that occurred to me. I would suggest praying as God will see your intent to seek Him and as you move along in your journey you will notice the gift of spiritual knowledge you've received and down the line as you continue learning and praying and seeking these things will be revealed to you and you will say 'wow, I am such a different person than I was a year or 2 ago'. And your life will be a beautiful journey of purpose finding filled with hope.

    It happened to both me and my husband who are now in our forties and we've seen the change in each other the past decade or so. The change in our marriage is because of Christ in our lives. He actually didn't search for almost a decade for answers like I did (which brought me the peace of today thanks to Gods mercy and grace) but for my husband it was COMPLETELY different, no books, no forums, he just got down on his knees and enough was enough and it was almost instantaneous the change I saw. He's a big man but it's only when he fell on his knees and asked God to take over that made him change. And this wasn't recent, this has lasted several years, both of us have real change in our lives. We still have bad days, but we don't have horrible despairing days. That's a huge difference for us. We have joy (wow, this was a big deal for me, and I say it now and feel emotional because I remember the years of despair). But that's over, and it's all because I sought knowledge with prayer and was consistent about it. Don't stop seeking and you'll keep learning and the promise is you shall find. And you will.
    ďAsk, and it shall be given you: seek, and you shall find: knock, and it shall be opened to you. (Matthew 7:7).Ē His promises are true.
    Last edited by princesa; 07-19-2016 at 08:38 PM.

  8. Amen Adrift, LostSheep, Raphael, One Bad Pig, Shaney777 amen'd this post.
  9. #7
    tWebber Adrift's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by One Bad Pig View Post
    I would say that God absolutely hears the prayers of the unsaved. He may respond positively only to those willing to place their trust in Him, but He hears all the same. And I wouldn't say that God hides himself from us because of our sin; it's more that we try to hide from God because of our sin.

    How do we come to belief? As an Eastern Orthodox Christian, I'd say, "come and see." Find an Orthodox church, and attend a service. A church is a spiritual hospital, meant for healing those who are spiritually sick - and we all are, to some degree.
    Or just find an "o"rthodox church even.

    I think for most people who come to faith in Christ, it's by seeing how God has interacted with others, and seeing the change in their lives: the love, the joy, and the peace that passess all understanding.

    As for doubt and skepticism, a good dose of skepticism is healthy, and everyone experiences periods of doubt. Everyone ought to ask themselves, "why do I believe what I believe". But you can also make yourself crazy endlessly questioning everything. At some point you have to weigh the evidence, and step out. And besides seeking people who can help you on your way, I advise you to take another look at apologetics. I wouldn't bother with apologetics online, but pick yourself up a few books. You can't go wrong with the classics like CS Lewis, and G.K. Chesterton. For something more modern, and entry level, I don't see much wrong with The Case For... series. If you're comparing religions, maybe check out Ravi Zacharias' book Jesus Among Other Gods or his Jesus Talks With... series, where he imagines Jesus in conversation with other religious and historical figures.

  10. Amen Cow Poke, Shaney777 amen'd this post.
  11. #8
    tWebber Adrift's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by princesa View Post
    I really appreciate your question. I always labeled myself a Christian since childhood and used to pray all the time until the end of my teen years. The decade of my twenties I didn't think 'much' about God. I was raising children and busy. Somewhere late twenties early thirties I found myself with 'life questions' (much like your post reminds me of). That's when I started seeking information and answers. I sought knowledge much like you through forums and books. I also prayed for understanding. The first few years I had a sort of cynical attitude. That was my anger at what I couldn't understand. I would say there was not much growth during those years. I wasn't letting knowledge in. It was a journey of forums, reading, praying, crying, praying angrily, praying desperately, reading more....I read many books about the Bible before actually reading scripture. It was like I wanted to prepare myself (soul and mind) beforehand. That was a few years. Media killed my soul with bad news as I tried to reconcile my faith with evil. More years of seeking Godís wisdom has helped me with this in particular.
    It's only now, I would say probably 8 years later that I can see the huge change all this search for truth had on me. I am not the same person AT ALL. I have changed so much and still will, even though now my learning is not one of desperation but I love to learn more of God, my heart is no longer pained. (another gift I just realized) I believe a lot of the spiritual understanding is the gift of the promise of Mathew 7:7. If I didn't purposefully think back on how I used to be, on a bad day I could be misled into thinking I didn't change at all. Now, I'm very much at peace. wow. I can't even believe it. For me, this journey took about a decade. For others, it can be much shorter or much longer. That doesnít matter as long as you keep searching. Have hope when you do. Thatís important. Some people (I know these people) are just born with this beautiful faith that they grow up with and take with them wherever they go up until adulthood.

    You thought about these things in your head first and by posting you are taking the step of seeking. And thatís how you start. I once visited a church different from my denomination years ago when I first moved into my new neighborhood about 7 yrs ago and loved it, I only went 2 or 3 times but a few years later when I went back I didnít feel at home at all. My church was home and how could I have liked this church was the thought that occurred to me. I would suggest praying as God will see your intent to seek Him and as you move along in your journey you will notice the gift of spiritual knowledge you've received and down the line as you continue learning and praying and seeking these things will be revealed to you and you will say 'wow, I am such a different person than I was a year or 2 ago'. And your life will be a beautiful journey of purpose finding filled with hope.

    It happened to both me and my husband who are now in our forties and we've seen the change in each other the past decade or so. The change in our marriage is because of Christ in our lives. He actually didn't search for almost a decade for answers like I did (which brought me the peace of today thanks to Gods mercy and grace) but for my husband it was COMPLETELY different, no books, no forums, he just got down on his knees and enough was enough and it was almost instantaneous the change I saw. He's a big man but it's only when he fell on his knees and asked God to take over that made him change. And this wasn't recent, this has lasted several years, both of us have real change in our lives. We still have bad days, but we don't have horrible despairing days. That's a huge difference for us. We have joy (wow, this was a big deal for me, and I say it now and feel emotional because I remember the years of despair). But that's over, and it's all because I sought knowledge with prayer and was consistent about it. Don't stop seeking and you'll keep learning and the promise is you shall find. And you will.
    ďAsk, and it shall be given you: seek, and you shall find: knock, and it shall be opened to you. (Matthew 7:7).Ē His promises are true.
    I wish we still had Post of the Day.

  12. Amen LostSheep, Cow Poke amen'd this post.
  13. #9
    tWebber
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    oh thank you Adrift :) !

  14. Amen Adrift amen'd this post.
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