Thursday, March 15, 2007

"Now I Even Forget to Forget" (SNFU)

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?


Jim Jordan said...

Hi society
In that discussion we agreed that doubt is healthy and certainly it is biblical. My point was to find out specifically what that doubt is. We need to challenge our doubts as well as our beliefs.

Faith is defined as being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we cannot see (Heb 11:1). That's a pretty high bar, it requires us to keep analyzing, seeking, and growing. If we stop thinking and declare "I know the earth was created in 6 24-hour days and you're a heathen if you believe otherwise", we become that kind of fundie that most people dread. Even reasonable doubts can't be discussed.

However, we also stop thinking when we say, "Oh, gee, I don't know...I can't really say..." All too often this leads to a selective amnesia of clear biblical truths.

Ludwig Wittgenstein, who chaired Cambridge's Moral Science Club in the 30s and 40s, demanded that people be clear and specific about what they are talking about. LW overturned much of the philosophical currents of the day simply by breaking them down into their true and specific components. Without specifics, we can't discern blue smoke and mirrors from truth. Last, doubt is healthy, but it is not an end in itself.

"God prefers honest disagreement to a dishonest submission." - Thomas Merton.

Timothy said...

Hi Brother, This is Timothy. Sorry it took so long to make over to your site.
I see now where your thoughts were going. Sometimes it is hard to communicate properly via text only.

To clarify: You are in NO way doubting God, you are only doubting or questioning men. Again this is in perfect alinement with what Scripture teaches. For he who does not question, will receive no answer. Sincere questions of faith bring us closer to God and help us to follow Christ more uprightly.

1 John 4:1 is very important and seems to be very simple on the surface. And also denotes that there are true AND false prophet & teachers. Otherwise we would need not test them....they would all be false or they would all be true. So then we must test them. But how can we when much of what is taught in the church is true and false also. With the churches themselves also being one of the very prophets/teachers of which we must test.
This causes much confusion, which is also a goal of the devil, for he loves confusion.
So then all we can do is search the scriptures ourself or with some friends as the Berians (spelling ??) did with Paul. Although, this is also difficult because many have been taught by the church how to interpret many of the needed verses. So we must cast off all we know and read the Bible as a child would read it, as for the first time.
Brother all this is why I hold so strongly to the Word God has spoken to me. I am an empty vessel having never been taught anything about the Bible from men or the churches at all. All I know the Lord has taught me Himself in only the last 3 years.
The answer to why so many of us have become so uncomfortable in the church and why once unbelievers, like myself, have suddenly given there whole lives to God, falling completely in love with Jesus overnight, is answered in 2 verses. Joel 2:28-29.

God is pouring out His Spirit on all flesh! in preparation for the return of the Messiah...Jesus Christ The Lord. Amen.

Amen Brother... and of this "pouring out" you have received and now go out seeking to fulfill what God's Spirit is calling you to do.

Blessings in Christ,

SocietyVs said...

Jim and Tim, thanks for your comments on the blog - and I value both of your opinions on the matter - this is a guarantee. I think a lot of talk I heard lately had to do with 'doubt' and our faith - and I felt doubt was a neccesary thing for spiritual growth or for safe-guarding against 'wolves'. But I appreciate what both of you bring to the subject - and Merton's quite is genius.

HeIsSailing said...

Well put, Societyvs. I am glad that you think doubt and questioning is good, and I see your point in that it weeds out the false crap that you have been fed. Well, hopefully it will anyway. What happens though, when you feel your doubt pull you away from God, and you don't see it returning?

SocietyVs said...

"What happens though, when you feel your doubt pull you away from God, and you don't see it returning?" (HeisSailing)

I guess you have to go with it - I mean to go against what 'makes sense' to a person does little in way of honesty or sincerity as an individual. Lots of people have left the faith due to some problems they faced - I see that as their personal choice. I have yet to have a doubt that makes me think Jesus was 'just fake and not worth the time'.

Anonymous said...

I have never had a problem questioning God. He made me a questioning person with a desire for understanding and my questions have always led me closer to Him and never further away. In fact, I once tried to quit being a Christian and when I let go, He didn't let go of me. I really don't think I have a choice in the matter. My faith is a gift and the reality of it outweighs any doubt that arises in me.


superduper said...

When doubts present themselves, they usually reveal the facets of my faith that were borrowed, i.e. that I have yet to take ownership of. In my case, faith is often seeded by the testimony of others... but testing eventually requires me to take full responsibility for the faith that I claim.

Not sure how much sense that makes...