Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Faith, Certainty, Doubt

I am a Christian. This means that I believe certain things about the world and about religion and God. But, I am not equally certain about all my beliefs. Sometimes, I doubt. Sometimes, I even doubt about the “biggies”, like whether God really exists or really cares about me. Thankfully, those doubts don’t come very often.

What is faith? According to the book of Hebrews, it is “confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”(NIV). Ephesians 2:8 tells us that our salvation is by grace and through faith, not from our works. Faith is from God, not something we muster up ourselves. But, in Romans, we are told that faith comes by hearing the word of God. So, it certainly sounds like we can put  ourselves in a better position to increase our faith by studying the Bible and hearing preaching.

I like to think about faith as believing that Jesus is walking right beside me even though I can’t see him. That fits well into my theme this year of “walking”. Some days, it’s easier to believe than others. Some days, I talk to Jesus, and I feel like he’s answering right back, either through Scripture or even things other people say or do. Other days, not so much.

There are some things in the Christian faith that I’m almost always certain about. (Note the almost. Some days are so hard that I’d probably beat Peter to denying Christ. Sigh.) Most days I can recite the Apostle’s creed with certainty.

I believe in God the Father Almighty,
Maker of heaven and earth:
And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord,
Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost,
Born of the Virgin Mary,
Suffered under Pontius Pilate,
Was crucified, dead, and buried:
He descended into hell;
The third day he rose again from the dead;
He ascended into heaven,
And sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty;
From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Ghost;
The holy Catholick Church;
The Communion of Saints;
The Forgiveness of sins;
The Resurrection of the body,
And the Life everlasting.

And then there are things that I want so badly to be sure of. I believe God created the universe billions of years ago and guided biological evolution to get this world to the state it’s in today. But, I’m not enough of a theologian/Ancient Near East scholar to explain in detail why I can legitimately interpret the Bible in that light.

I really believe that God intended for men and women to be equal and to have equal roles in the church and that all of the Old Testament laws putting women in submission to men were a result of the Fall. Most of the time, I’m completely sure of this. But, not always.

And I’m never sure what I believe about end times theology except that I really don’t believe that God intended us to interpret the Bible using flip charts and trying to figure out the exact day of the Second Coming. I know God wants us to be ready and to live every day as if it’s our last.

What is Certain in my faith? Jesus. At the end of a three day long migraine, he’s still there. I pray, sing, read my Bible, and Jesus is right there. Yes, he’s saved me from Hell. But, mostly, he’s saved me from insignificance. He’s saved me from insipidity. He’s saved me from wallowing in my own pain. He’s saved me from myself.

What causes you to doubt? How do you handle these threats to your faith?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I've always wanted to have a conversation with a theistic evolutionist. It seems like you need to have a million times more faith to believe the complexity of creation evolved through billions of years - for example, how on earth could any of this happen before reproductive abilities "evolved"?
Anyway, I believe in a literal six day creation, and I'm unable to logically accept any other explanation - but I do appreciate your blog.
D in Canada