I was thinking about a convo between HeisSailing and the Moral Science Club about doubt and faith and I said to myself – ‘now that makes a great blog topic’. Top that off, Timothy from Gracehead and I also had a similar one about doubting faith in God.
We have been raised in these Christian enclaves to never doubt God – to ‘keep the faith man’ – even under the most perilous of situations (ie: a good old fashioned stoning). But what if doubt is being taught in the bible also – right beside our utter devotion to God – wouldn’t that be quite the thing huh? Well it is and we need to use it more than ever these days.
Sometimes doubt can be a good thing. For example, in the case of ‘testing the spirits’ and finding out if someone is from God…which seems to be a biblical ethic (usually in the case of prophethood). There is also the ‘wolves amongst sheeps’ idea also to contend with. What it does mean is ‘asking questions and even doubting’ if something does not add up. Case in point is the guy in Texas claiming to be the 2nd coming of Jesus – does that ‘add up’? So we can see a good reason for questioning and for doubt in certain cases. Some would even go so far to say in the process of ‘seeking’ some of these ‘questions of doubt’ can also occur (me being one of them).
I mean let’s be honest we have been told handfuls of things that just don’t add up on the surface: tongues is the seal of the spirit, there is only one true church (and likely your in it), don’t eat with people of the ‘world’, the end can be predicted, etc, etc, etc. Now if those things created doubt about what we were being taught by church authorities, then we have only scratched the surface. Those things lead us to think ‘maybe my pastor or teacher is hiding something or not coming clean on something’…chances are many of us have been here and then began the questions about more core doctrine held by the ‘higher-ups’.
Then we get into the toughies: is the bible without a single error? Is ‘thinking something bad a sin’? How judgmental is God? Does God only love those that love Him (or the elect)? Is revelations a book about prophecies of the ‘end of days’? The list can go on and on. I find nothing wrong with asking these questions and wanting answers that actually ‘make sense’. I have heard many answers to those questions that take every wild turn imaginable. Top that off, you have the questions about more modern ideals which get us asking ‘does the bible even address this’? So you can see the process of asking question and having doubts can result in some people developing a greater love for this faith – or just plain leaving altogether (if the answers are just ‘unsatisfactory’).
I personally don’t ‘tow any denominational line’ nor do I think one brand of faith has the ideals all wrapped up perfectly. Nor do I believe many of the church fathers from many an era have this thing solved – although when we read back they raise some excellent points yet at the same time committ some atrocious activities (ex: Calvin watched some heretics ‘burn at the stake’). So I think we need to each take the time to read these scriptures without the lenses of another – and read scripture in context – and with the idea of what it means to us this day. Now some old countrymen backed slavery (this is a known fact) – but some didn’t (who were they? – likely the ones asking the question ‘where is slavery ever supported by the texts?’). So questions and doubts need to exist – when they don’t – run for the hills.
I think questions and doubts within our faith are a sign of health – they are a sign we are asking questions and may not agree with the current ‘mainstream’ ideals – we want change! How do you think we got a reformation? Some people, namely Luther, decided ‘enough is enough’ – give me the paper and a pen and I’ll nail something to their door they’ll never forget. But now ‘we even forget to forget’. You are only in the Christian denomination you are in because someone changed the norm of what ‘church’ really is.
So when I see someone asking questions I am glad – because we as Christians need to not stop challenging ourselves to bigger and better ideas. What worked for the ‘Jesus Movement’ or ‘Azusa Street’ may not be what God is doing now…just maybe things are a changing again (ex: emergent movement). I would say ‘why not’? I look at a lot of things within current church context that I find just atrocious and not ‘in line’ with what I read in the gospels. I admire the questions and doubts we believers have – they only exist for our benefits. Can you name a time when you were challenged by a new ‘idea’ about theology that basically changed the idea taught within your church? Read Jesus again in Matthew 5-7 – there’s a person that saw a change needed to be made to a system of ‘law’ (without grace). The questions and doubts exist for a reason – but can you figure it out?