Last week I posted on how doubt for many Christians is a burden that they must eliminate or at the very least seek to overcome. I want to purpose in this post that faith and doubt cannot exist without each other. The two are paradoxically linked together. Paul Tillich in his book Dynamics of Faith shows how doubt is an integral part of faith, for without doubt faith sinks into blind belief. Without the presence of doubt there is never a sense that what has been taught or realized as “belief” is evaluated. I don’t want to say here that all faith actions and its dynamics have to be empirically proven or tested rather that we do not uncritically take in just blind belief. Paul Ricoeur discusses this movement when he describes the hermeneutic arc. The process of moving through the critical stage into a new understanding or a second naïveté. This I believe is what the power and presence of doubt can do in the life of a Christian.
If doubt then is necessary for the Christian faith why are some many lay people terrified of their doubt? Why are so many pastors proclaiming from the pulpit that doubt should be eliminated? Why are those who express doubts in their Christian walk and life branded either as heretics, or lacking in some spiritual discipline? The answer I fear has more to do with our modernist heritage than it does with real authentic Christian faith. Modernism defined knowledge and truth to be clearly defined. Descartes often said to be the founder of Modernity wanted a clear and distinct way of knowing which he found in “pure reason”, this is often referred to as Cartesian certainty. This is the foundation of much of what we say faith is in this day and age.
What if we reinterpreted the biblical passages of strong doubt into positive aspects in the faith journey? Instead the degrading “Doubting Thomas” we saw this narrative as a way for which Thomas to continue in his faith journey. Doubt is apart of the Christian life and should be a integral step in the faith journey.Selfishly I am writing this post because I am kind of tired of being labeled a crazy heretic or liberal or whatever title you want to give me. I guess it is my hope that one day I can approach my fellow sister or brother in Christ and not be condemned for my theology or beliefs, but rather be welcomed and may the same be true of me.
The peace of the Lord be always with you.