The sermons, articles, and theological ramblings of a 38-year-old Anglo-Catholic Episcopal priest in Washington County, Maryland.

Why Do I Believe in God? Why Do I Believe in Jesus? (Why Do I Believe…?–Part 1)

On November 7, during a lunchtime offering of “Stump the Priest” at the University of Alabama’s Ferguson Student Union Building, I spoke with a young woman whose story—like many other young people’s stories I have heard—revolved around her growing up in a conservative/fundamentalist Christian household that was unwilling to accept differences of theological opinion, alienating her and anyone else who did not believe in the literal interpretation of Scripture.  Seeing both my colleague and I wearing clergy collars, this young woman took advantage of the opportunity to see who these Episcopal folks were and where they stood on things.  For about 15 minutes, she and I talked about many things—the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Bible: literal or inspired, salvation, Heaven and Hell, and a couple of other topics.  As the conversation ended, the young woman thanked me for taking time to speak with her, helping her see that it is OK to be a Christian that does not have all the answers and asks questions.  But before she left, she asked me one final question: “Why do you believe?”

In Part I, Question 2, Article 3 of the Summa Theologica, Thomas Aquinas asserts that all that exists “cannot move towards an end, unless it be directed by some being endowed with knowledge and intelligence…Therefore some intelligent being exists by whom all natural things are directed to their end, and this being we call God.”  It is rational to me that all of the created order had to have begun from one central force—one whose abilities are completely perfect to have organized all that exists to operate in the ways that they do.  For me, it is the very existence of all that is created that makes me believe in God’s own existence.  From this, I get the assurance that God’s existence was, is, and forever shall be and that His grace manifests itself throughout creation and within each and every one of us.

Jesus—the Incarnate Face of God—reinforces my belief in God’s existence.  In the same section of the Summa, Aquinas replies to an objection against God’s existence by stating that part of God’s infinite goodness is for Him to allow evil to exist, but that He achieves ways for good to be brought forth out of it.  In our Eucharistic Prayers, we acknowledge how humanity turned against God and one another, which brought evil into the world.  But we also acknowledge the One who was sent by God, born of a woman, to fulfill His Law, so that freedom and peace would be made open to us.  I believe in Jesus because I see Him as the representation of God’s infinite goodness and love arising out of evil and His crucifixion and resurrection forever ensuring that I, created in the image of God, have been freed from the bondage of sin, evil, and death.  I take to heart the testimony that “we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous one” and that “He is God’s way of dealing with our sins…” (I John 2.1-2, Common English Bible)       

In the words of Blessed John Henry Newman: “Firmly I believe and truly God is Three, and God is One; And I next acknowledge duly Manhood taken by the Son.”

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The Rev. Brandt Montgomery is the Chaplain of Saint James School in Hagerstown, Maryland, having previously served at the Episcopal Church of the Ascension in Lafayette, Louisiana as Chaplain of Ascension Episcopal School from 2014-2017, then as Associate Rector and All-School Chaplain from 2017-2019. From 2012-2014, Fr. Montgomery was the Curate at Canterbury Episcopal Chapel and Student Center at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, his first parochial appointment following his ordination by the Bishop of Alabama.

Fr. Montgomery received a Bachelor of Arts in Music, specializing in Trumpet Performance, from the University of Montevallo in Montevallo, Alabama in 2007. He received the Master of Divinity (cum laude) in 2012 from The General Theological Seminary in New York City, for which he wrote the thesis “Time’s Prisoner: The Right Reverend Charles Colcock Jones Carpenter and the Civil Rights Movement in the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama.” In 2021, Fr. Montgomery received the Doctor of Ministry degree from the School of Theology at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee, his thesis titled “The Development of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Saint James School of Maryland.”

Fr. Montgomery’s scholarly interests lie in the areas of American religious history, Episcopal Church history, the Oxford Movement and Anglo-Catholicism, the Civil Rights Movement, and practical theology.


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