If my last post sounds like a sermon, I would agree, except for one thing. The ideas that I expressed in that post are not theoretical. They are not simply an expression of something I believe. I would not summarize the post by writing, “I believe that God can be my all in all.”
Elton Trueblood distinguishes between believing in and believing that.
Belief in differs from belief that, in the way in which the entire self is involved. “If I believe in something,” says Marcel, “it means that I place myself at the disposal of something, or again that I pledge myself fundamentally, and this pledge affects not only what I have but also what I am.”1
He uses the analogy of a marriage to explain. When I was engaged to be married, I didn’t simply believe that my fiance loved me. I believed in her. I believed in her so much so that I committed my life to her and married her. Trueblood continues.
For everyone recognizes the degree to which marriage is a bold venture, undertaken without benefit of escape clauses. The essence of all religious marriage vows is their unconditional quality. A man takes a woman not, as in a contract, under certain specified conditions, but “for better, for worse; for richer, for poorer; in sickness and in health.” Always, the commitment is unconditional and for life. The fact that some persons fail in this regard does not change the meaning of the glorious undertaking.2
What I wrote in the last post runs in a similar vein. When I wrote…
My purpose in coming to the King is not to tell Him how to do His business, about which He knows far more that I do. Instead, I come to Him to make sure that worries, concerns, and problems do not take over and destroy my life, and that the focus of my life remains on the King, Himself.
…I meant to say that this is what I have committed myself to. I was not telling you what I think should happen or what I think a relationship with God should be or even what I believe the New Testament teaches. I was telling you what happens when I pray.
About the time that I left the Elder Board, I went through a paradigm shift in my faith. Nothing is the same. I was single. Now, I am married. I did believe that. Now, I believe in.
Prayer was simply theoretical. Now, prayer is intensely practical.
Prayer was peripheral. Now, prayer is central.
Prayer was just another activity.
Now, prayer is the difference between surviving and not.
1 Elton Trueblood, The Company of the Committed. Harper and Row, NY. 1961. Available online at http://www.ccel.us/company.toc.html