I Chose Christianity For It’s Personal Convenience, Or Can You Choose Your Belief?

Last week I gave you my thoughts on the Holy Book of Christianity. I’m sure I looked like a red hot liberal because I couldn’t affirm that I believe the Bible is infallible.

Belief, for Christians, is huge. Especially in modern times with our emphasis on the Romans Road and using tracts to get people to believe (and therefore get into heaven).

But the more we squabble over all the things Christians should believe and emphasize belief to be saved saved the more I’ve begun to wonder if we even choose our beliefs… Can you help your beliefs? Do you control what you believe? These are serious questions; we list what people should believe but is that something they even have a conscious choice over?

It’s not so cut and dry.

Why would you hold something you don’t trust to be true? Why would you believe something that is irrational or full of holes? That would be ridiculous, and if someone would then I’d be inclined to doubt that it could even be considered belief!

Imagine asking a Christian when they chose to believe in the Resurrection. They’d be puzzled – it wasn’t as if one day they picked it from a list because it looked attractive. I don’t think that we select the beliefs we want to be ours out of personal convenience. I cannot easily choose what I want to believe – rather I am compelled. It’s what clicks with me – what makes sense in this time of my life – that which fills in the gaps as best they can be filled. This is gonna sound cliche – I don’t grab onto the belief, in a way it seems to grab me.

Our beliefs change. When I started to move away from my conservative upbringing and began to adopt new beliefs it wasn’t as though I was looking to change them, it just kept happening. Of course I kept progressing and moving and so did my beliefs – but each time I changed my beliefs it was because I had to. I couldn’t keep believing whatever I used to and I could no longer deny whatever position I had moved to. If I were to fight against my new beliefs it would actually be disingenuous.

So maybe we need to calm down on our emphasis on belief. It’s not so simple. So if someone is in disagreement with you don’t assume the worst- they hold that belief because it’s the best one that fits. They don’t believe it simply because it works out the best for them.

Do you think we choose our beliefs? Do you agree it seems like the belief grabs you and not the other way around?

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14 Responses to I Chose Christianity For It’s Personal Convenience, Or Can You Choose Your Belief?

  1. Jeremy's Confessions says:

    If you chose to believe something that you didn’t really believe, what good is that. The problem with “belief” is that we try to use a specific set of them to define who we might be. Can who we are in our souls be summed up in a belief statement?

  2. David says:

    Do you think we choose our beliefs? Yes and no. If we believe religion or philosophy, we will choose things that we have been conditioned to believe, or things that prove to be true. Too much of a bad thing will often cause the rejection of it in an equal and opposite direction. That is how Christians can convert to non-Christian religions. It is about belief, and not about faith. We’ve discussed the difference before. Religious practice regardless of beliefs, and void of faith, is just a philosophy.

    When Jesus transforms us by faith and we maintain a relationship with him in which we hear his voice, he will choose everything for us – even the desires of our heart. Those things will make us fruitful, joyful and provide great purpose. The key is a true conversion, not an intellectual one.

    Do you agree it seems like the belief grabs you and not the other way around? If it i us, we do, And if it is God, he does.

    I have changed a lot that I believe. I would say that I was definitely a liberal in politics and religion; I rejected all things church including the name of Jesus.

    Then one day I met Him. I have written a book about it all and I am looking for publisher – but the bottom line is I was transformed. I enjoy my relationship with Jesus, and he speaks to me about all sorts of things.

    I am with Jeremy, we can’t sum it up in a statement. Each one us must work out our salvation with fear and trembling – but hey – who knows God well enough to tremble in his presence?

    • I think you’re right David that I’m definitely talking about philosophy – and I think the biggest thing we’ve lost in creating Christianity into a philosophy is that you lose the emphasis on Jesus – specifically meeting and being transformed by Jesus. And if you lose that- we’ll then its just a moral system.

  3. Bernard Shuford says:

    Now, my friend, you are bringing up EXACTLY the issue that has been bugging the heck out of me for about, oh, four years.

    If you follow the mental path that I’ve followed, it will drip, drip, drip, drip until you come to a point of throwing up your hands and saying “I don’t know WHAT I really believe!”

    Because, to a large extent, we’re going to live our lives EXACTLY based on what we REALLY believe.

    And changing those beliefs by force seems to me to be impossible, because what I REALLY believe is going to continue lurking in the background rather than just going away.

    Likewise the “unbelievers” that we tell “you must believe in order to be saved”. So, in the fear of hell, they respond “I believe!” Did their beliefs really change? Or did they believe already? And if they believed already, were they already saved? If not, is it the act of choosing to have faith in something that they already believed that causes them to be saved? A careful reading of John 3:16 seems to me to say that it is POSSIBLE for whosoever believeth to be saved, not that it is guaranteed, but I’m no textual expert.

    In a way, here again, first exposure does much. Most people are exposed to some version of God – even atheists – at a young age. This nearly always is hard to shake. Our basic core beliefs rarely stray FAR from what we were exposed to at a young age. There are always exceptions, yes, but most people raised in Christian surroundings will retain basic Christian beliefs. Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, likewise.

    Thus, the arguments from Rachel Held Evans ring very true. It quickly seems very wrong for God to cause millions to be eternally damned in hell because they were born into a society / culture / civilization where Jesus Christ is not revered as the only way to heaven, and they NEVER hear the Gospel presented as clearly as we proclaim is necessary in churches in America every Sunday morning. Millions of Muslims never hear it said that Jesus Christ is the true Son of God and only by believing in Him can we obtain eternal life. Yet, we Christians are convinced that those Muslims have CONSCIOUSLY rejected the Son of God as their Saviour.

    So, Bernard, what do you BELIEVE about all this? I figuratively scratch my head in much puzzlement, because many, many things that once seemed to me to be, as you say, “cut and dry”, are no longer so firm.

    And, thus, I have found much more grace for those who simply don’t believe. I don’t, with much irony, “believe” that they are right, but I can honestly identify with the mental struggles of those who aren’t convinced of various things that Christians take for granted.

    And it also saddens me to think of how many Christians would / will write me off totally for responding in this fashion. Questions are still incredibly unwelcome in Christianity. We’re simply not very good at truly loving those who are not like us.

    • man you know how to pack a punch Bernard. I always love hearing from you. I think you are right about first exposure, which is bad news for Christianity (especially as much first exposure to Christianity is unhealthy). The one good thing is that Jesus has a way of co-opting that first exposure and radically meeting people – otherwise we’d be screwed.

      You bring up so many great points about how we try to get people to believe so they’ll be saved – but they do it for insurance, and often their beliefs aren’t changed. It’s a cya type move (let me know if I need to break down the abbreviation).

      You are so right about question in Christianity – we always expect people to be mature Christians with everything figured out and we’re stunned when they’re not. And that last line is such a killer.

      • Bernard Shuford says:

        Currently, your blogging efforts are saving me a lot of trouble, because you say so darn many things that are echoes of things in my head and you say them much better than I usually do. We don’t always agree, but that’s okay.

        No need for a breakdown on cya, don’t worry… :)

  4. Jeff says:

    I think we choose what we believe and choose what we do not believe. It depends on whether it makes sense to us or not. I do not believe things that make no sense. To think that everyone should believe something I believe would be quite arrogant. If there is no evidence for what a person believes then there is no reason to believe it. I think everyone is entitled to believe whatever they want. They are not entitled to demand it be followed or believed by anyone else and they should keep it to themselves and out of the public square.

    • Chris says:

      There you go.

      Simple, isn’t it?

    • I think what I’m saying is that what makes sense to us isn’t something we choose – it’s beyond that. Like I wrote in the post it’s whatever clicks with us, it’s not a matter of our choosing. I think religious arrogance is what got people so demanding that others follow their beliefs – it seems so simple to not force it onto others yet this is how I was trained to think.

  5. jeff says:

    It can be.

  6. Larry Hughes says:

    To believe and have faith based on scriptures is one thing. To believe and have faith as you have heard from God or the Holy Spirit by voice or actions is another. Which one holds more credibility? What would it take for you to believe with unwavering faith?

    Sadly as in biblical times, we all have doubts unless we see miracles, healings, and miraculous super natural happenings. I think Jesus mentioned this a couple of times to those that followed Him.

  7. Pingback: Cliche “Seasons” In The “Desert,” Or Is God Really Faithful (The Answer May Be No) | Charlie's Church of Christ

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