Trusting God is such a huge topic with multiple intersections with other spiritual faith and Bible topics. I do not claim to have it all figured out. What I do offer here in this post are some starting points that may help shape the conversation in a constructive way.
How Myth 5 is supposed to work (if it were true)
We are told that trusting God is the opposite of trusting human reason and human understanding. You cannot do both at the same time. For those who claim this, they often say that a person cannot trust God while at the same time trust their human reason and understanding. A primary Biblical text regularly turned to as proof of this assumption is Proverbs 3:5-6, which states, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not lean on your own understanding, but in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.” To be sure, this is a great insightful short passage that I will return to later.
For those who assume as much, they often suggest that THE sign you are “trusting God,” is that you “believe God’s Word.” Believing God’s Word, for them, means trusting the Bible is true from cover to cover. Every word. Of every sentence. Of every passage. Of each book of the Bible. In other words, to trust God completely is to trust the entire Bible (God’s Word) is true and to act on this belief by seeking ways to apply the truths of the Bible to your lives.
It is also asserted that you should not trust human reason or understanding over what God has said in the Bible. So, in as much as we are following the Bible first on all matters of life and to the extent that the Bible remains silent on an issue, to that extent we can (and only then) trust our human understanding on those silent matters. Some Christians, however, believe we should never trust our human understanding. No if, ands or buts. Ever.
Why should we make trusting God and trusting human reason/understanding opposites? Doesn’t trusting anyone, let alone God, depend on our capacity to reason and think and understand (at least in part)? In other words, if we did not use our minds, how is it possible to trust? And lastly, why should trusting God necessitate trusting or believing that everything in the Bible is true (or if you like, “the absolute truth”)?
Trusting God 101
Trusting anyone, let alone God, at a basic level, requires believing in the reliability and trustworthiness of that person. To some extent, trust is earned. Even for God. Which means that trusting God requires experiencing situations in which God has demonstrated himself to be reliable and trustworthy. People don’t simply trust people or God simply out of the goodness of our hearts. We trust someone when they have shown themselves to be reliable and trustworthy.
So if a person has either not experienced interactions with God that lead them to believe God is reliable and trustworthy or they are simply unaware of this reality, why would (or should) they trust God?
You simply can’t force trust.
Trusting the Bible 101
Let’s take it a step further as it relates to the Bible. If someone has read the Bible and has been compelled to believe that the Bible is reliable and trustworthy (at least the parts they’ve read and believed), and this has compelled them to believe God is reliable and trustworthy, then shouldn’t we rightly say that they trust God? At least, they, like us, trust God in as much as we understand how to trust in general and how to trust God in particular.
And can’t we also say that when they or we come across legitimate questions about the Bible and problems within its pages that lead them doubt certain things in the Bible, while holding space that some of the Bible is still reliable and trustworthy, that they do in fact trust the Bible (at least in part)? Why, in other words, should our lack of trusting some part of the Bible necessitate a view that we don’t trust God? Since all of us trust God and the Bible in part according to our experience and understanding of God, we cannot rightly tell someone else they do not trust God because of their legitimate questions and doubts of some parts of the Bible.
The irony of saying we should trust the entire Bible
The irony of course in saying that in order to trust God, a person must trust the entire Bible (God’s Word) as true and then act on that truth, is that even the most ardent literalist who believes in the most stringent version of Biblical inerrancy usually doesn’t typically practice every direction and command in the Bible. And if they’re honest, they’d acknowledge some parts to be outrageous and dangerous if we were to take them as serious commands for us today?
For instance, what do they do with Bible passages that talk about stoning rebellious children? I guarantee that they believe that is no longer applicable (for whatever reason) and they will think twice about following that command. If they do such an act, they will be sent to prison. What do they do with passages where God endorses slavery? Do they own slaves? Or how about cultural practices like head coverings, wearing little to no make-up, greeting visitors with a “holy” kiss (regardless of who they are), taking the Sabbath day off every week, not eating pork, etc.? The reality is that the Bible includes culturally relevant assumptions, directions and commands that have little to nothing to do with our lives today. It has to do with the ancient Near Eastern worldview they inhabited a few millennia ago as we discussed in Bible Myth 1.
So trusting God isn’t as simple as “just trust the entire Bible.”
Back to Proverbs 3:5-6
The entire book of Proverbs is about people of faith seeking wisdom and understanding and knowledge. According to the authors of the book of Proverbs, knowledge is a good thing. Understanding is a good thing. Wisdom is a good thing. And should be sought after as if it were gold and a hidden treasure. That’s my first point.
For the writer of this passage in Proverbs, trust of God is in fact juxtaposed with trusting human understanding. However, we should understand that it is implied within the Proverbs in general that people who trust in the LORD are those who already believe in God and have had experiences and interactions with God that have led them to trust in God. That’s the second point.
Third point: trusting human understanding is juxtaposed to trusting God ONLY in as much as a person of faith is doing the very things and actions they already know and understand are not what God wishes, commands or directs (or are in fact, the opposite). This is not a passage, I suggest, about rejecting human reason and understanding in order to trust God in some sort of brainless fashion.
That’s my take. Hope it helped.
If you are a nerd like me, check out Webster’s online dictionary definition of trust.
Next blog article: Bible Myth 6: Christians should never question the Bible
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