Friday, 7 August 2009

Faith & Doubt

“Faith is a footbridge that you don’t know will hold you up over the chasm until you’re forced to walk out onto it.” Nicholas Wolterstorff

Let’s blow a commonly held myth out of the water.

I used to believe that you fell into one of two camps: you either doubted or had faith that there was a supreme, eternal being called God. I couldn’t comprehend how faith could exist in the presence of doubt. Surely the two were opposites. This is of course ok, until you try to live & think out your beliefs in the real world.

As Ortberg states, “many believers tend to think doubters are given over to meaninglessness, moral confusion and despair. Whilst many doubters assume believers are non-thinking, dogmatic, judgmental moralisers. But the reality is, we all have believing & doubting inside us. For we all have the same contradictory information to work with.”

Faith & doubt.

Religious people are often unwilling to sit quietly & wrestle with doubt. This is when bad things happen. Glib responses are given, bad answers are offered & enormous pain is added when ordinary people are convinced that God has not delivered because their faith was not strong enough.

Yet we must doubt. Because we want truth; we must sometimes doubt. We don’t want to be just one of those suckers who falls for every carnival sideshow delusion that comes along.

Faith & doubt.

When my first son Jacob was born this year I found myself staring at him in amazement. I was simply incapable of believing that he was an accident; just a ball of cells resulting from an evolutionary fluke. I can’t hold him without being grateful to Someone greater than I.

And whilst the birth of every infant whispers of a loving God, I am only too aware that the death of every newborn calls His existence into question.

Faith & doubt.

Still not convinced? Take 5mins & read through Psalm 22 & 23; both attributed to David. The often quoted Psalm 23 is confident of God’s promise, protection & peace; whilst the preceding Psalm 22 contrasts glaringly & opens with the words of Jesus on the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Faith & doubt.

But in addition to believing & doubting there is choosing; I must decide which road to follow. I must place my bet somewhere.

The term “leap of faith” is overused & greatly misunderstood. It does not mean choosing to believe an impossible thing for no good reason; it is not an embrace of fantasy in which we ignore all evidence. The leap means to make a total commitment to an action in the midst of uncertainty (similar to marriage or having a child); where one must commit in spite of doubts & fears.

Faith, doubt & choice. My choice. Your choice.

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