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Why arguing with God is not the same as not believing in him

Monday 23 November 2015

Every now and then I spend a day kicking myself for getting things wrong. Yesterday was one of those days.

Last week I willingly agreed to do an interview for Songs of Praise in connection with the appalling attacks in Paris. During it, I was asked whether events like Paris ever caused me to doubt and question. Foolishly, I said exactly what I thought, in a fairly lengthy discussion which particularly referred to Psalm 44.

The essence of my answer was that everyone has moments when they question things, and one sees that in the Psalms. The psalmist in Psalm 44 asks God if he is asleep, and challenges him in the most direct terms about his failure to deliver Israel. It is a psalm of protest.

When there are tragedies like Paris, when friends suffer, when evil seems to cover the face of the Earth, then we should be like the psalmist.

But that is not the same as a settled belief that God does not exist, or even any serious questioning about his reality. It's a moment of protest and arguing. It's very much part of my normal prayer life, together with praise and wonder, with delight and awe, with petition and lament, with celebration and rejoicing.

So, for the record, I do believe in God, and that Jesus Christ is God himself, and I can say every word of the Creed without ever crossing my fingers once.

And why was I kicking myself? Because, even as I said it, I realised that it would be too tempting for an editor or headline writer to take things out of context, a long context of a whole discussion, and to make a good headline. I really need to remember that.


Author: Justin Welby

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