The Last Supper painting

My Peculiar Relationship with Jesus

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Every Sunday I get on the 44 bus from Garratt Lane in South West London and make the 30 minute ride through Battersea and across the river to London Victoria.  My final destination is Westminster Cathedral, which is just a short walk from Victoria station.  During the bus journey I have my iPod on ‘shuffle’ and get a mixture of Christian music (some hymns and some gospel), rock and metal, and contemporary electronic music in my headphones.  The journey tends to go smoothly and quickly (particularly if the music is good), and I am always surprised by how short the final stretch through Belgravia to Victoria station is once the bus has crossed the river at Chelsea Bridge.

It might seem surprising that despite considering myself a non-Christian, I still choose to visit a cathedral every Sunday.  After all, Westminster Cathedral is a Catholic building, indeed, it is the centre of Catholic worship in England.  Well, the truth is, I feel a real sense of God’s presence in the place, despite not being a Christian.  There are no religious buildings corresponding precisely to my beliefs, and Westminster Cathedral (along with other Christian churches) does at least offer the right kind of atmosphere for me to pray and reflect and have some ‘God time’.

cathedralThey do of course hold mass in the cathedral, but I don’t attend.  I did feel inclined to join in a service one Sunday a few weeks ago, but after only a few minutes the content of the liturgy made me feel deeply uncomfortable, and so I quietly put down my prayer books and wandered out to the aisles of the cathedral, where everyone is free to pray to God quietly and in their own way.  What made me leave the service?  Well, I simply cannot relate to the Christian idea that we are all sinners, and apologising for sins doesn’t make sense to me.  This is because I believe that God is responsible for everything that happens in the cosmos and in our lives; we do not have free will.  I have written about this extensively on this blog on and in my books, so there’s no need to go into the subject in depth here.

Along the aisles of the cathedral there are chapels dedicated to important religious figures and saints.  Everywhere there are metal racks holding dozens of candles, and visitors are invited to light a candle, perhaps in memory of a loved one (and in exchange for a small donation).  The atmosphere is solemn and sacred and very beautiful.

My favourite part of the cathedral is an area called the Blessed Sacrament Chapel where there is a statue of a figure who I presume is Jesus holding out his arms.  Below the statue is an area where visitors can sit on wooden chairs or kneel to pray.  There are only 8 or so chairs so the area feels very private.  People often walk up to the statue and touch the figure’s bare feet or robe, presumably to absorb some of Jesus’ healing power.  This feels like a distinctly Catholic thing to do.

Cathedral InteriorWhen I am kneeling in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel I pray about all kinds of things.  Rather than centring my prayers around forgiveness, as Christians do, my own prayers tend to beg God for mercy in terms of the way He treats us.  I always pray especially for those who are suffering the most, and I always pray for people in hospital and people in prison and people who are homeless.  After each prayer session I light a candle for a particular group of people who I feel have suffered greatly, whether holocaust victims, disabled people, the homeless, or another group.

During my prayer time in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel I often feel God prompt me to reach out to Jesus.  And I do.  Although my understanding of who Jesus is doesn’t equate to the Christian understanding, I still acknowledge Jesus as a special person in God’s eyes and a very important spiritual figure.  I pray to Jesus for his friendship and ask for His love and support and intervention in my life’s circumstances.  This goes to show how important I feel Jesus is, even though I’m not a Christian.  I really sense how much God loves Jesus, and it warms my heart to think that Jesus might be my friend.  I often go up and touch the statue myself, and then I touch my heart, hoping for healing in my own life.

My relationship with Jesus is peculiar because I don’t believe as a race we are in need of salvation from sin, which is what Christians generally believe.  I don’t believe we have free will.  God is responsible for everything that happens in our lives.  And because we don’t have free will, we can have done nothing to deserve the wrath of God, or to warrant the need for salvation.  Therefore I cannot accept much of what Christianity teaches.  But I do accept that Jesus is obviously a very important person in God’s eyes, so I feel drawn to respect Him and to reach out to Him, and to read with care what is said about Him in the Bible.

When I leave Westminster Cathedral each Sunday I have a feeling of being refreshed, and it is as though a small weight has lifted from my shoulders.  I have entrusted my woes and worries into God’s care, and I have faith that God will have received my prayers and will look after me and care for me in the coming week.

I have great faith, but it is not Christian faith.  It is a faith that God is in control and has the power to unfold my destiny in whatever way He chooses.

Where do you go to worship?
How do you relate to Jesus in your own prayer life?
Do you believe we have free will?


  1. I don’t believe in free will either, but without it the problem of evil, which is the most common and persuasive objection to theism, has no solution. God could abolish the evil and suffering in the world and for some reason chooses not to do so, although it serves no purpose in terms of our moral development.


    1. Hi Robert. Many thanks for your comment. I agree that the biggest problem for philosophy is the problem of evil. From my perspective God is the cause of all suffering, and so the question is, why? My answer is that God must have good reasons for creating suffering, and I discuss possible reasons here and here. If God Himself suffers then it is easier to understand why He might create suffering in human beings. It would be interesting to get your thoughts on these articles so feel free to comment! Best wishes, Steven


  2. In regards to free will and prayer… I understand your point, that all actions are in actuality preordained reactions that stretch to the birth of existence. That to have all data at any given point in time is to have the power to retrace and simultaneously predict the entire life of the universe. That, of course, is currently impossible, so I’ll move on. I’m sure we’re in agreement that we lack the ability to measure the infinite. Would you agree, however, that we could balance it, at least on a philosophical level? I ,like you, don’t go to church much. I didn’t receive alot in the way of a formal education. I’m not well traveled. In other words, if I have, am, or eventually trip and fall into a puddle of my own ignorance, please forgive me…. Ok… So I believe nearly as strongly in balance as I do in God. I would even go as far as saying that if there was a law that our Creator couldn’t get past, it would be the need for balance in the universe. Science and religion have been known to clash from time to time, but they’ve always been in agreement on the balance of existence. Ex: ‘In the beginning, there were two things- the formless void and the formless entirety of existence. Both start the exact same way,if youcan omit gods conciosness momentarily, the order of the void and the chaos of creation, separated and in perfect balance. They both agree that the only way two infinites can change once in balance is to combine. So in both versions the chaos and order combined to form the universe. the only disagreement thus far is the sound each version made to display its free will(I say free will because I’m a little foggy on how a formless and timeless preuniverse just randomly combined. There has to be some kind of initial action to stimulate the reaction) I say it was Let there be light, Hawking says it was more of a boom. My reply is maybe in God’s language they sound the same… I say that to say this… If your against free will and don’t see god hearing your prayers and forgiving you as a likely scenario, I have two potential scenarios- The first is that free will doesn’t exist, as I believe you said. That means that God wouldn’t possess it either. If he is still bound by the law of universal balance(made up word to keep the flow going) the only thing big enough to even the scales of a perfectly infinite being free to do as he will(chaos) would be an infallible adherence to a universal code of conduct(order) aka gods law. Same goes with prayer. If, for the sake of argument, God and the universe are both on board with the balance concept, maybe your soul, or conciousness or whatever, is a mini version of creation, with your soul playing the role of the infinite God and your body the finite bunch of atoms representing the universe. A man can be metaphorically out of balance and be repaired with finite tools. The only tool I’m aware of to restore balance to our souls would be prayer. God’s law differs from man’s law in the fact that every action I can think of that is against one of God’s laws I already knew was wrong by instinct. Breaking those laws throws me out of wack a little, spiritually speaking. I think that maybe prayer and repentance with sincerity might restore balance to my infinite self…. That’s all I have for now. Again, please forgive if my ignorance is showing an thanks for the mind food.


  3. First off, thanks for this very personal sharing of your practices. I am more drawn to understand your theology because of how you embody it.

    Re: free will, do you believe that God is free?

    Here’s an excerpt from something I read just this morning:

    A great deal has been written about determinism versus individual freedom, but the problem is too often seen from the wrong perspective. It is not a question of freedom versus determinism, but of freedom and many determinisms…Freedom means to move to a higher plane. And the same applies to the earth, because the very same forces drive the individual and the collective. As individual meeting points of all these determinisms in matter, if we are capable of rising to a higher plane, we automatically help change all the lower determinisms and give the earth access to a greater freedom, until the day when, with the help of the pioneers of evolution, we can lift ourselves to a supramental plane, which will change the present destiny of the world as the Mind once changed its destiny around the Tertiary Era. And in the end – if there is an end – perhaps the earth will attain the supreme Determinism, which is supreme Freedom and perfect accomplishment.

    I’m drawn to the idea that there is ultimately no distinction between Freedom and Determinism. That seems right to me.

    And I find quite refreshing your belief that humans do not have free will coupled with your embodied, prayerful spirituality. It has the feel of tragedy infused with hope. An eyes-open but not despairing embrace of the human condition.


    1. Dear Evan,

      Many thanks for reading my post and leaving a thoughtful comment. I believe there is one will in existence and that is God’s will. God is acting in the present moment (which is all there is) and is in control of everything, everywhere. God is free indeed, with only certain limitations, which are that He cannot cease to exist and there will never be an ending to His existence. I discuss these possible limitations further in this post.

      It’s important to note that I don’t believe God created the universe at the beginning of time and then stepped back (determinism?) but instead I believe God is a ‘now’ God – beating our hearts, flowing our blood, making thoughts arise in our minds, making the planets move, etc. Wherever there is activity in existence, God is doing it.

      Please let me know if you have any questions and I would be happy to elucidate.

      Best wishes,



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