The journey of a believer traverses deep valleys of doubt which can lead to the abyss of unbelief. Doubt is serious business and whether you like it or not, it most likely will pay you a visit. The life of a truth-seeker will hit snags, pitfalls, some real challenges in their trek through belief. It is a normal occurrence, at least in the life of this pilgrim. My valleys of doubt are not unlike the wilderness many truth-seekers experience. Suddenly you find your faith barren, on life support, struggling to breathe in the sweltering heat of the unknown, and wondering where is God? It’s a deserted lonely place where rationality mocks my faith and doubt is the vehicle.
I think it’s one of the questions that we should stop asking as though it makes sense, because faith isn’t the most reliable means of making decisions, and we generally prefer to avoid faith as mechanisms for provisional certainty.
So, in a setting of “getting it right” about the ultimate nature of reality, why would faith be an advantage? I personally don’t think the necessity of faith is the point. I would actually prefer knowledge over faith. But, we have no choice in context of who we are as human beings that get to experience reality that was built for us. Hence, we get no choice but to progress from lack of knowing into knowing, and faith gives us provisional certainty to make steps which we otherwise wouldn’t.
The “rational problem” is that ,arguably, if each of us gets to analyze and juxtapose our religious beliefs vs the reality of our actions that we should expect, given we really believe what we say we do, then we would have a rather wide gap of disparity, which is reminiscent of the Pauline crisis of not doing what I ought, and doing what I ought not.
So, if God seeks candor, I’m not really sure we create an environment in which doubt could be honestly expressed, instead of it being a “nail that sticks out” with the rest of the congregation running around with hammers. Hence, people who doubt, become outsiders. They are treated with distrust. And they eventually forced out in some way or another.
That’s one of the typical mechanisms by which younger generation is “ejected” from the church. They doubt. Their doubt is hammered with bunch of “faith hammers”. It doesn’t resolve their doubts. They keep asking and questioning, in which these questions perceived as “divisive antagonism”, and they are eventually ostracized or they leave.
So, the obvious question, could the church in its present state, be a place where expressing doubt can be both a safe space, but also a place one could grow and learn via contextual understanding of God from their own semantic perspective?
Not doubt. I think Jesus’ declaration and question, “My God, My God! Why have You forsaken Me?” or double question,“My God, My God, why? Have You forsaken Me?” were Jesus attempt to verbalize His consummate anguish at complete separation from the Holy Spirit just prior to commending His own into the Father’s hands: the separation from the Father having taken place in Gethsemane.
Beautifully said, Greg. We are fortunate to have a God who never tires of our questions, though we may tire of the answers. I am learning that in getting on with our lives as we are invited to do, the answers come (or not) in forms that can only be recognized while moving.
Perhaps Thomas was NOT a doubter.
Perhaps Thomas was a Show and Tell. Liked tangible evidence for himself
before he passed on something stated to him.
Or perhaps he wanted to see the Risen Lord for himself. Perhaps it was
REALLY HUGE to ask that Jesus would show Himself in the flesh. Kinda
like Moses – asking to be able to “see” God and God answering as best
He could to a human mortal.
then Jesus said “Don’t just look at Me. Touch Me. Handle My hands.”
That was HUGE! It is NOT recorded where any of the other disciples
actually touched Jesus in those early presentations.
The more I have thought about Thomas, the more I believe the
LABEL AS DOUBTER is very wrong.
Something else was going on in his mind. Too bad we don’t know
more about the REAL Thomas.
It isn’t recorded, but perhaps Thomas ACTUALLY gave Jesus a hug.
And Jesus hugged Thomas back.
Remember, Thomas said, “My LORD and my GOD”.
Touching, maybe hugging, GOD!
PS; Perhaps Thomas was a “touchy-feely” type person.
My given name is Thomas. Bible Doctrines in the academy led to fear.
Table talk, gave me hope and courage. Glacier View opened my eyes and my heart. Grace does abide, despite categorical nonsense of a great disappointment created by the folly of Biblical ignorance. The lies of the Whites et al iis as dark as midnight. Just the book of Hebrews is enough to give assurance. Daniel is anticipatory, Hebrews is endorsement of Christ’s Finished work. I can live yes die with that.
Wonderful essay! I was told one time in Sabbath School “You shouldn’t ask those kinds of questions; It could cause doubt!” Well, I wouldn’t have mentioned it if I didn’t have doubts. I believe doubt is okay - certainty can be a form of idolatry, it can foster arrogance and pride and exclusiveness, things which are out of place in our feeble heads. Although I miss Jesus and would really like to see him in the flesh, I’ve become reconciled to having an Invisible Friend. We humans like to have (again) certainty - to see, feel, touch, but God IS near, maybe in a different dimension from what is visible to me. I’ve worn specs since I was 9 years old, and though I love my glasses (now they help hide my wrinkles…) they aren’t the right prescription to see the Holy Spirit in her dimension, YET. It just takes a little imagination, that we aren’t the only ones here, and that what we see isn’t all there is. Read Revelation as brilliant Sci-Fi, especially the last chapter. It helps.
I read a sentence recently that still has me pondering. “The opposite of faith is not doubt; it is certainty.” I thought that made perfect sense. As Greg Prout says,
I believe one of the biggest problems in our Seventh-day Adventist fellowship is certainty. We go to Sabbath School classes, Bible studies, evangelistic meetings and church services, not to search mysteries but to confirm our existing beliefs and certainties. And scorn is readily available for the one who expresses uncertainty.
Certainty stifles growth. Certainty breeds pride and arrogance. Certainty is a faith killer because it knows no need to believe across gaps, believe in what can’t be seen, and hold on in spite of doubts.