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What I Believe
by Ron Barnes
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What I Believe

I. I believe God is not a criminal.

God is not a homicidal maniac. He does not delight in the death and suffering of His children. Those who kill and cause suffering in His name commit the most despicable blasphemy. Their actions cause others to see our loving Father as an evil tyrant who is so insecure that He must destroy any who do not use approved words and procedures to honor Him. Those who claim to be committing criminal acts in His name violate at least two of the Ten Commandments:
1. Thou shalt not kill. This is pretty self-explanatory.
2. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain. This needs a little explanation. The Hebrew word translated as “vain” is shav, which means evil or destructive. Those who claim that God approves of their evil and destructive acts are clearly in violation. The word also implies falsehood. So, when they tell lies about how God wants them to cause harm to His children, they are again in violation.

God does not commit robbery or extortion. If I walk into a store or somebody’s house, point a gun at them and say, “Do what I tell you or I’ll blow your brains out”, how many crimes am I guilty of? Yet we hear ministers threatening others with eternal death and agony if they do not accept the minister’s message. I worship the loving Father Jesus told us about. He does not need to commit crimes to secure my love and respect. Nor does he commit acts which we would consider vile and hideous if committed by humans.

My wife and I have a dog and a cat that we love very much. They are not pets, they are part of our family. They are very well-behaved but they do sometimes (like all of God’s creatures including us) make mistakes. Imagine that I walk into the den one day and find that one of our little furry children has made a mistake on the carpet. In my anger, I grab him, throw him into the fireplace and watch as he dies in hideous agony. What kind of vile monster does that make me? I do not worship a monster. More about this later.

II. I believe God is elegant.

Again, an explanation is in order. I use the word elegant here in its engineering context. To an engineer, something is elegant if the maximum desired effect is achieved with the smallest or simplest effort. Engineers, for example, seek the elegant solution as a means of solving a problem with the least possible waste of materials and effort. In other words, God is not complicated. His message is so simple that even the fish, the birds and the animals understand it. Unfortunately, we humans have a habit of trying to complicate things.
Moses gave us God’s law in ten commandments totaling less than two hundred words. Jesus boiled it down to two sentences. Love God. Love each other. Every year, governments pass thousands of pages of legislation trying to improve on these beautifully elegant commands. The ancient San Hedrin established 613 mitzvots to “clarify” the original commandments. I will leave it to you to evaluate the results of their efforts.

III. God does not play by our rules.

This one is a little tricky so bear with me. The Bible tells us that God created man in His image. I am constantly amazed at our efforts to recreate God in our image. We humans live in a cage called here and now. We cannot be in two places at once. We cannot travel instantly from one place to another. And if we wish to travel long distances or travel outside of very limited boundaries, we require elaborate equipment to support our bodily functions. Furthermore, we cannot travel backward to forward in time by so much as one second.

What cage is big enough or strong enough to contain God? We find in John 8:58, “Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am”. This is not a grammatical error. Jesus was trying to explain the timeless nature of God. This explains the all-knowing nature of God. God has a plan and the plan works. God knows it works because He has already seen its successful completion. To Him, there is no past or future. He lives in the eternal NOW. He is seeing the birth of the world NOW. He is seeing the successful completion of His plan NOW.

Unfortunately, this concept of God poses serious problems for certain aspects of evangelical dogma. We are taught that, at the end of this life, God will judge our actions. This implies that God is waiting to see what we will do before deciding what He will do. This only makes sense if God is confined by the same laws of time which confine us. Such a God would have no clue what will happen next, which means His grand plan for mankind is throw them up against the wall and see who sticks. Since such a God is clueless about the future, His actions are determined by my actions. What kind of God worthy of the name would put an idiot like me in control?

It also poses problems for those who advocate teaching creationism in the science classes of our schools. In order to be considered scientifically valid, a theory must be supported by evidence limited to that which we can perceive and understand. Furthermore, experiments proving that theory must be conducted with a controlled environment. What laboratory is big enough to contain God? To think that we can control God’s environment or completely perceive and understand God strikes me as presumptuous to say the least.

So those who oppose teaching creationism in the science classroom are not speaking as atheists. They are speaking as scientists. God is just one of the things that cannot be confined to the limited standards of the scientific method. Perhaps the best example is love. I defy anybody to give me an explanation of their choice for a husband or wife which will stand up to scientific scrutiny. There is no logical reason why my wife and I fell in love with each other. All of our friends predicted our relationship would not last six months. After twenty-four years, we are still together and still in love. No scientist would have predicted that and no scientific explanation could explain it. But it’s still very real. So is God.

But it gets worse. Just as we are confined within the limited dimensions of space and time, we are also confined within the limited dimension of possibility. Things which have happened are the only things which could have happened because that’s what happened. Once again, we find that God is not confined by our limitations. In Matthew 19:26, Jesus tells us, “With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible”. When we combine this with the fact that God is not limited within our confines of space and time, it is reasonable to assume that not only can anything happen, it already has.

Now unlike many ministers, I do not demand that you accept mine as the only true vision of God. Just as He did in Acts 2:6, God speaks to each of us in the language we understand. But if I have helped you to see the full glory and power of our Father, I will consider that I have rendered a valuable service to Him.

Best always
Brother Ron

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