we continue through What’s the Least I Can Believe and Still Be A Christian–part 1, the things we don’t have to believe (in spite of what pop-Christianity claims we believe). Today: Chapter 2: Good Christians Don’t Doubt
I’ve noticed a lot of people seem to believe this–that if you doubt any part of what we supposedly believe, or any part of what’s in the Bible, or if you have questions, you must not be a Christian. I just had this conversation a couple of days ago, where someone told me they probably shouldn’t be a member of our church because there were a number of things they weren’t sure about.
In this chapter we get a brief survey of some biblical characters for whom doubt played a role, and some stories that show that not everyone is always of one mind. While the classic one is the father of the boy with the non-stop seizures in Mark 9 who cries out to Jesus “I believe, help my unbelief!” (which is a pretty good prayer for most of us, I think!), my personal favorite is on the hilltop after the resurrection, in the midst of the story we know as the Great Commission (Matthew 28). It says that the disciples were with the risen Christ, and “they worshipped him, but some doubted.” So…they all worshipped, but some weren’t sure what was going on. They worshipped anyway. They prayed, they praised, they learned, they stood in awe, even with all their doubts. As Madeline L’Engle said, “I believe in God with all my doubts.”
Every year we take the youth group to Northwall for an afternoon of indoor rock climbing. Before we do that, the leaders have to go to a training session to learn to belay, and part of that is often also learning to climb. One year the owner of the gym was belaying for me, and insisting that because I was a minister I just had to believe that I could get to the top of one of the most difficult walls in the gym. Because I was a Christian, he said, I shouldn’t doubt, just believe. From 3/4 of the way up the wall, I said to him (in a moment of near-panic, I admit) that the opposite of faith is not doubt, the opposite of faith is certainty. It may have been my one moment of brilliance. (Also, I made it to the top of the wall and did not die. It was even fun…once I was on the ground again!)
Do you doubt? What are some things you’re not sure about? What are some of your questions? Did you have an experience like the author’s of having your faith challenged during your education? How did you handle it? How do you integrate doubt into your life of faith (or not)?