Michael Licona is a scholar whom I greatly respect. This video titled Question Everything from Recycle Your Faith (HT: Michael Patton) reminds me why.
When he speaks of those moments when you both believe and doubt (like Peter walking on the lake) it reminded me that there is nothing incompatible with faith and doubt and that belief can sometimes occur even when our rational side is wrestling with the implications.
Watch the video and tell me how you maintain faith in times of doubt.
Wow, that’s a really big question. I agree with your supposition that doubt and faith many times walk hand in hand. That’s why it’s called faith and not knowledge. Faith, knowledge and belief can all exist with doubt. To me doubt is that little something that tells me I’m missing a key piece, go back and look again or stop and reconsider. When it’s faith in Christ, I consider the go back and look again/stop and reconsider to be a prompting of the Holy Spirit to go back and engage the scriptures on the subject again. This may seem to be a rather off hand superficial comment, that would merely deal with wanting to understand a doctrinal viewpoint, but when something really big happens in life, something big enough to blow your whole world apart, the answer is the same! It’s the living word of God that sustains you until you can breath….Scripture sustains and will point the way back to God when you search for Him with all your heart.
@Nancy : You are right. Doubt forces us to revisit things that could become commonplace. Likewise, I think doubt saves us from heresy at times and it can even prevent us from a misaligned taxonomy of doctrine. It forces us to rethink our beliefs as well as their hierarchy.
@Brian: I liked this video. You know, Mike gives me hope. I wrestle with doubt on a day to day basis. Even yesterday I said “I believe; help my unbelief!” Last year at the EPS I spent about 1-2 hours just sitting with and hanging around Mike; his honesty and scholarly work to the body of Christ is truly a blessing.
I went through years of doubt myself; it was terrible, but a sweet blessing at the same time (which I can only say now!).
I think one of the contributing problems that can make doubt fester is the rationalist society (and I mean empericist etc) we live in. Further, the primary expression of this, I think, in America has been Fundamentalist Christianity. It has given too much ground to their rationalist counter-parts (like in Bib studies, higher criticism). Nevertheless, the Lord is able to use what the enemy intends for destruction to bring life and vitality to the “doubter’s” walk with Christ. I think doubt is a sign that someone actually is serious about their faith; it’s the non-doubters” that I worry more about.
And then of course their is what is called experimental predestinarianism, associated with folks like William Perkins and Westminster Calvinism; this is famous for producing doubt (i.e. folks trying to figure out if they are one of the elect for whom Christ died, etc.). But this doesn’t sound like what Michael is dealing with.
My comment was a bit stream of conscious; sorry 🙂 .
Being related, I can assure you that Mike is just like this in person. I happen to love coming over to see my in-laws because I believe when I talk with Mike about these issues, he really is listening and open seeing as we sometimes have different opinions on how a passage should be interpreted. It’s a two-way street, which a doubter is allowed to have, as opposed to being dogmatic on every single point, like some people I can think of…..
@Bobby : I agree 100% with what you say about the non-doubters being concerning. I’m sure there is the exception to the rule out there, but people with no doubts make me wonder if they’ve thought about their faith at all, or if they are hiding something, or if they are trying too hard to impress.
@Nick: I imagine he a great person. I’d like to meet him someday.
I really like the openness he shows here. It is great to see his academic study rooted in an genuine faith conflict. Maybe even more encouraging is the results his study has yielded, a deeper, more confident faith rather than a more ambiguous one. It is great to be encouraged to wrestle with doubt through this avenue, and being reassured to hold faith even if the questions and doubts never completely go away.
In 2009, I did a “blog through the Bible” and this is a portion of one of the posts. I think it is applicable when considering what part doubt play in strengthening our faith:
So, the question comes to mind…just what part does the doubt that comes to all of us play in our salvation? We might just find the answer in Jesus’ words to Peter at the last supper:
Luke 22:31-32 (New Century Version) 31 “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to test all of you as a farmer sifts his wheat. 32 I have prayed that you will not lose your faith! Help your brothers be stronger when you come back to me.”
It is only after the events on the road to Emmaus, when talking with the disciples in the upper room that Jesus opens their minds once more so they can understand the scriptures. Is it possible that Jesus has used their doubt to secure a belief based on faith and not mere events in human history?
Kendall: Agreed, it is wonderful to see that we can engage the questions and come out stronger than we entered.
@Nancy: Yes, indeed. It seems that Jesus led his disciples over and over and over again into situations he knew would test them and challenge their trust in him, yet he was with them and he was preparing them in the midst of it all. I think he does the same for us.
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