What does it mean to believe in God?

It was in October 2016 that Drew Downs posted a series entitled, “31 days of Choices”. He said that he had been influenced by a discussion between Rob Bell and Peter Rollins entitled, “Shall we talk about God?”. Anyone who is familiar with my blog will know that I like summarising my thoughts. What follows are my bullet points based on some of what Drew has written:

  • We have a choice whether to believe in God or not, but for many that choice was made for us until we were old enough to make that choice for ourselves. That’s when the problems start!
  • How did we come to see and understand the world the way we do? We are able to make thousands of choices in the course of a day. How do we choose what we think is important? How much gets ignored?
  • Who is God? That seems to be a question we are not equipped to answer.
    Western philosophy and the scientific method of evidential analysis and rhetorical consistency leads to a war between brainless faith and careful reason!
  • Many suggest that God is Love but what does that really mean? Are we open to the complexity and challenge of the meaning of relationships?
  • Christian faith and scripture presupposes that we can talk to God, but what does that really mean?
  • The wisdom of God in the Torah is seen as a physical presence – God with them!
  • Addressing God as God just doesn’t seem right!
    God is not a king, a soldier, a warrior, a manipulator?
    How can we honour God? What is our responsibility to God?
  • What does God expect of us – should we be concerned for transactions or transformation?
    Are we looking for liberation from a selfish, abusive and divided world?
    What part can we play? What do we think God is up to? How do we think that God is active in the world? Do we see a beautiful creation spoilt by mankind?
    What place original sin?
  • There is a lot of deconstruction – many are asking similar questions – this is being done more openly – what is this revealing? What are the stories that shaped our faith? What are the stories of those who are now questioning what they had been taught?
  • What place mankind’s attempts to define God – the many religions!
  • The inadequacy of language – something that I find very significant!
  • Consider the significance of the collapse of the Roman Empire.
  • Monastics and mystics built communities and shared sacred revelation?
  • What place art, poetry and worship in small communities?
  • An emerging story! The challenge of freedom!
    The East /West split in 1054 – the Reformation – the printing press – a faith revolution – denominationalism – the rise of solo faith and a personal Jesus!
  • Where is God? God with us? Is God present and active in the world today?
    What about the ethics of Direct Action v Inaction?
    We have a choice – a God worth believing in?
  • Why can’t we talk about God? What place fear, guilt and shame?
    What has been the impact of the traditional view of sin?
  • How can God be active without pulling strings? What place prayer?
    Micromanagement? How active is God? How active are we?
  • The two great commandments? Life as a partnership?
  • If God is love why all the hate among Christians?
  • We don’t have peace because we haven’t made peace. Our political systems encourage anger and conflict instead of working for the common good of all people.
  • How important is it for us to be responsible for our own behaviour?
  • What place EGO and loving relationships?


The 4 episodes of ‘Shall we talk about God’ with Rob Bell and Peter Rollins spanned more than 2 hours.

Pete doesn’t talk about God very much – a lot about what we can’t say – and how to be more human.
Many Christians talk of blessing tanks and freedom fighters and condemning terrorists!
Why do the ideas of so many try to justify theology – instead of it being a critique?
A God who breaks open our understanding of the world in which we live?
What about the outsiders who question our way of looking at the world?

And that’s just for starters!