Monday, August 30, 2010
Have You Tried Doubting Your Doubts - Reynolds
This meditation has been around a bit -- a sermon, a newspaper article, or you can look it up in A Troubled Faith, chapter 5. A good number of people have indicated that it has been a real help to them. I hope you find it worth the time and effort. And don’t miss the delightful bit at the end forwarded by Dianne Anderson.
If you feel bothered by doubt, go ahead and examine your beliefs. Question the things you have been taught. But don't stop there. Keep on. Doubt your doubts. Question them as thoroughly as you have questioned your faith. I think you will find that, while many things you think you should believe may fall, in the end you will find that belief makes more sense than unbelief.
Too many times, I have had someone, usually someone young, tell me that they went to a priest or a pastor with questions about their faith, only to be told that they should not question, only believe. Of course, if faith is "assent," intellectual assent to the teaching of the church, then doubt is wrong.
If faith is "trust," then doubt may not be such a bad thing after all. It is, in fact, the only way that false beliefs can be shown to be false, that bad customs may be replaced by good customs, that ancient idols may be toppled from their thrones. We can understand Aristotle saying that "doubt is the beginning of belief," and Galileo calling doubt "the father of discovery."
People once believed that the earth was flat. But Christopher Columbus said, "I can't believe that!" and sailed on until he discovered the Americas.
Martin Luther was taught to accept the penitential system of the medieval church and the sale of indulgences as a means of salvation. He said, "I can't believe that!" He tacked his "protest" to the door of the parish church of Wittenberg, and the Protestant Reformation was begun.
When the steam engine was new, there was speculation that perhaps ships might be equipped with it and even run the whole course of the Atlantic Ocean powered completely by steam. Someone wrote a book showing the impracticability of it, but one person who read that book exclaimed, "I don't believe it." Indeed, the first boat to cross the Atlantic solely by steam carried a copy of that same book.
Jesus of Nazareth, in this sense, was one of the greatest of doubters. The Jewish people considered the Samaritans to be an ignoble and inferior people with whom proper Jews should have no dealings. Jesus refused to judge all the people of Samaria by that notion, and told the story of a good Samaritan who was a better person than either the priest or the lawyer.
He was taught that pleasing God meant keeping every letter of the Law. "I don't believe it!" He said, and taught that healing the sick was more important than keeping laws of the Sabbath, and that justice and mercy were more important than tithing herbs.
Progress, the development of truth, is built upon such doubters – the questioners who stop to think and to inquire.
Moreover, isn’t doubt necessary to real faith? We don't attain real faith through sticking our head in the sand in order to believe. Real faith is not hereditary. It's not something we're born with, something we inherit from our parents. We must find it for ourselves. A creed is the expression of someone else's faith, not ours. It is something outside ourselves. It is not ours until we test it, question it, doubt it, and wrestle with it as Jacob wrestled with the stranger in the pre-dawn darkness (Genesis 32:22f.)
Only by facing our doubts, looking them dead in the eye, will we come to a faith that is ours, that is strong and secure. Then we may come to understand, believe, and cherish it for ourselves. We can’t claim faith for our own unless we have faced the possibility that there is “nothing there,” until we have taken the risk, like Peter, of stepping out of the boat onto the water (Matthew 14:28f.)
Lately, I’ve been seen a lot of usage of “free will” and it prompted me to consider how free is free. And I’ve concluded that what is deeme...
(This article was printed in Testimony Magazine March/April 2015 http://testimony.paoc.org/articles/financial-abuse-of-seniors ) ...
In one of his Every Day with Jesus devotionals, Selwyn Hughes wrote that he "has learned to say no to many things in order to say yes ...
The 1952 romance/musical, Singing in the Rain was so spectacular that I went to see it twice. The fact that my talented and handsome g...
A phrase I do not remember hearing frequently, has surpized me in the last three days, at least twice, in totally unrelated con...
When it rains in the countryside where I live, one could take the high road to avoid flooding that is certain on the roads in the low-lyi...
Yes, you read that title correctly. Yes, I just finished cleaning the toilet before sitting down to write this post. And yes, you can breath...
Resolutions. Goals. Objectives. Whatever we call them, if we don't have focus, we won't achieve what we desire in the year ahea...
I love old Victorian movies and I’ve just finished watching The Barchester Chronicles. It is based on the Warden of Barchester, b...
By Rev. Dr. Ed Hird I will never forget when Wilf Fawcett almost thirty years ago asked me to write a spiritual column for the bra...