In Search of a Confident Faith (Ch.1, Pt.2): atheist annotations
Being this blog's loyal opposition (I am loyal to Joe and opposed to most of what we both once believed, religiously speaking), I can't help but provide a few of my own annotations for what we've learned so far from Messrs. Moreland and Issler.
"A Christian with doubts isn’t a heathen or someone to be feared. A Christian with doubts is someone who’s less than 100% confident that Christianity is true — but still more than 50% confident. What’s needed isn’t blind exhortation to “have more faith” but more evidence to create confidence — to create more faith."
They're right on their main points here: it's obscene to suggest that doubting is sinful, and the unspoken idea prevalent in churches that you can simply will yourself to believe something either more or less is absurd.
Yet there's a corollary idea here that goes unsaid: once we begin to talk about Christians who are "pretty sure" or "mostly sure" God exists, talk of a "personal relationship with Jesus Christ" is revealed as the metaphor (if we're being generous) or pure hyperbole (if we're not) it's always been. As Joe says, he has great faith in his wife, to say nothing of his confidence in her actual existence - and why shouldn't he? But despite statements sometimes made by Christians to the effect that it would be as crazy for them not to believe in Jesus as it would be for them to stop believing in other people they know, it's clear the Christian "relationship" is no different from the connection other religious people feel with their objects of worship.
But it's the other important message from the authors in this chapter that's positively stupefying when you consider its real implications so that you wonder how they dared to write it at all.
The good news is that you can indirectly control what you believe and how strongly you believe it by freely choosing to do certain things that develop God-confidence as a byproduct.
Spoken for truth, as they say: our actions affect our beliefs as much as vice-versa.
Most Christians already understand, of course, that the best way to believe something, keep believing it, and even believe it more than before is to carefully control your interactions. For instance, that's why they read books like In Search of a Confident Faith when they have doubts. So long as they always turn to Christianity for answers to problems with Christianity, they can minimize that terrible chance they might find answers to their questions from more threatening sources. What's interesting is that Christians also understand this is what they're doing, but their religion has made such close-mindedness acceptable by spiritualizing the whole matter.
There's much more to write - a book, really - but other matters to attend. Happy reading.