Doubting Our Definitions of Faith

This second week of Easter is focused on doubt. We hope you use our weekly reflection each day to read, pray and think through this important issue.

A few years ago, I had a teenager come up to me and say: I have all these doubts. I don’t know if I buy into the Bible. I definitely don’t know if I like all the traditions of our church. My parents got divorced and that jacks with how I think about God. I wonder some times if God is good or if God cares about me at all. Will you baptize me?

I had to do a double take. I was not expecting the last question at all. But I think this teenager understood more about faith than I did.

Faith and Doubt Drafts17It may seem weird to spend a week exploring the idea of doubt. But we do it because doubt is a necessary part of faith. It is not just something healthy for us to do. It is not just a good exercise for churches. Faith and doubt are inseparable.

I think our tendency to shy away from doubt is because we have a bad definition of faith. For a lot of Christians, faith is a set of assertions about life and God that you acknowledge as true and never question. In this case, doubt is simply our refusal to accept these assertions.

But faith is not about believing the right things. Believing the right things helps faith. But so does questioning those beliefs.

Faith is about trust. Faith is about surrendering to something bigger than ourselves. Faith is about living out truth.

If we have all the answers, we have no need for faith. We have it figured out, there is no need for trust in something bigger than ourselves. If we are no longer asking questions about our faith, then our trust is placed in our own ideas of God. Faith is about the radical surrender and search to experience God as God truly is.

The teenager who asked me to be baptized understood this in a way I often don’t. She had questions. She had doubts. She had been handed things he didn’t know if she wanted to keep.

But she had faith. Radical faith. Deep trust. The desire for God as God truly is.

She wanted to ask these questions, and she wanted them to lead her to God. She wanted them to lead her to truth.

And truth has a name.

So she wanted to explore all of these questions in the context of a radical trust in Jesus.

Donald Luck in Why Study Theology (which inspired a lot of this post) says this:

“An unbeliever who is a dedicated disciple of truth is more truly God’s disciple than a Christian who wants the security of absolute certainty and is afraid of asking questions.”

On the one hand we have someone who wants to surrender their life to truth. On the other we have the person who wants to be in control of their lives through certainty.

Faith is about surrender.

Faith without questions is not really faith.

Faith is the desire to know God more fully and this means doubting, accepting unknowing, embracing mystery, and asking questions.

And we do this in order to trust God more and experience God in deeper ways.

May God grant us the grace to doubt and question.

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