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A Sermon By the Rev. Stuart E. Schadt

Does God Exist?

Trinity Church Manassas

The Rev. Stuart E. Schadt

There are a couple of ways to approach this question one is to play with the definition of God and the definition of what it means to exist. Paul Tillich who was probably the preeminent protestant theologian of the mid Twentieth century boldly states that God does not exist  but then goes on to say “at least not within our understanding and experience of what it means to exist.”

But I don’t want to wrestle with definitions. I want to wrestle with the very question, “is there God?”

Interestingly when one goes and looks for the classical discussions of this question one finds not the atheist, agnostic or skeptic, but some of the most profound people of Faith. There are many approaches to the question, inductive, subjective, ontological and soon the eyes glaze over. I want to just talk about two, Anselm of Canterbury (1079) writes not an argument for the existence of God but a meditation on the existence of God. He gives us the idea that “God is that than which there is none greater.” I like to understand this as a spiritual quest that leads us ever toward the greater and greater reality.

Thomas Aquinas embraces an approach that is very close to our current concept of intelligent design. He argues that the ordered nature of creation can only be explained by the existence of one who created the order.

Both of these arguments and every argument for the existence of God has its strength and its weakness. In today’s world I think you find people who are so zealously committed to their faith and to a firm absolute of what God is like.  Others who might say that regardless of the answer the existence of God is irrelevant to them. Some people who might assure us that they no God because they have experienced God. Proof by miracles.  And all kind of people in between.

To be honest there are times I wonder about the existence of God. I embrace a world of fact, reason and proof. And there are times that I question this claim that is unprovable. But ultimately that is why what we live is faith not fact. And by allowing the question to come up I become more convinced of its truth.

In my life I find the proof of God in its near universal claim. We have found very little evidence in the world of a culture or society that did not believe in a force, power or being beyond their reality. And amazingly dating back to 10,000 bc where we find that humans come together in community we find religion. Agriculture, community and religion seem to rise up together in the ancient record.

So if we decide God exists what does it matter?

God calls us out of ourselves and out of a selfish self-serving reality into relationship. I believe this is what scripture is telling us when in genesis we are told the humanity is implanted with the image of God male and female. There is a reveled truth there that we are meant for relationship and community.

For community to work at least a part of the community has to engage in endeavors on behalf of other members of the community.  There has to be a volunteer commitment to the basic rules of society. Even though we find that a certain level of enforcement encourages us in the voluntary commitment.

Jesus then calls us to an even higher level. Jesus challenges us at one level saying if you have two coats give one to the person who has none. Jesus challenges us to live generously in relationship to others.