Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Faith in Doubt: The Biggies

A continuation of the series by Luke, Faith in Doubt.

I started this series of posts with two motivations.  The first was simply to tell my story.  There are many of my friends and family who were shocked when I left the faith and were never given any context for why I came back, and others who I thought might benefit from hearing it.

In addition, the questions that I worked through over the last six years are the same questions that most thoughtful people struggle with, whether inside the church or not.  Therefore, my second goal of writing is to try to address some of these big issues.  In my experience, church communities struggle to address these kinds of issues.  We have some heroes out there doing good work, but our actual communities don’t seem prepared to receive people who still have serious questions.

I had a conversation with someone recently that finally convinced me to write about how I deal with some of these big questions.  This person was introduced to Christianity late in life, and still seems very interested in it.  But like a lot of us, this person has struggled with the question of why there is so much suffering in the world.  Why would the world be so cruel if there is a sovereign God?  They said something that I found very sad.  They said that going to church had only exacerbated their anger and confusion about these issues.  This makes me upset, so for my next series of posts, I am going to take a shot at some of these big questions.  

So what are the biggies?  At the very least, they include the following:  If God is in control, then why is there so much suffering in the world?   How can hell be considered just?  How can we believe the Bible when it seems to be based in outdated worldviews, and seems full of inaccuracies and contradictions?  How can Christians claim the universality of a single religion in light of the multitude of world religions?  In addition, there are questions that often arise around conservative Christian views of women, families and homosexuality.  (This all suddenly seems a little ambitious…)

I titled this whole series Faith in Doubt.  I love this title because it has a double meaning.  On the one hand it includes my story about a time when my faith was in doubt.  But it has another meaning as well.  It expresses how I can still live in faith even when doubt remains.   Faith and doubt may be antonyms, but that does not mean that they cannot exist together.  I have faith in God and the Bible, but that faith exists in the midst of my ongoing questions.  I don’t have everything figured out, and I don’t have to pretend like I do.  My doubts are legitimate, but that does not stop me from trusting God.  If push comes to shove I’m going to trust God, but right now I have the freedom to think and struggle and learn. 

I do not have satisfying answers to every question, but what I hope to model in these posts is a life and mind that can live in faith, while still remaining honest about doubts.  It is not one or the other.  I invite readers to add questions and critiques of what I say, and I look forward to the discussion.  

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