Where do you express your questions? doubts? I recently read a Tweet from a friend who followed the pattern of contending it is the Devil’s trick to fill us with doubt. I always thought he was the “Father of Lies.” I do understand that a lie may make a person doubt. But, reading the Scriptures it always seems to be the Truth that prompts us to doubt. We doubt the way we see the world when confronted with the Way of Jesus. We doubt the way we express love when we consider the depth of Jesus’ love. We doubt the way we view people when we consider Jesus and Zacchaeus or his story of the Samaritan.
No, I am not sure I buy into the idea that the “Devil” wants us to doubt. I would believe him perfectly content to let me go on seeing the world the way I want to. Believing a lie seems much easier than doubting. Any doubts I have about the Way of Jesus present themselves not as doubting Jesus, but the manner of our following. Where do you express those notions? From the pulpit? Well, that is not too fashionable. “Hey folks, we have gotten Jesus wrong for so long. Let me tell you how . . ..” This is precisely how I felt when I read Philip Yancey’s, The Jesus I Never Knew
We may well discover we have not followed Jesus far enough. On the heels of Reformation Day it would seem the call to an “always reforming” faith demands our proclamation be turned back on ourselves. And, when it is, we face doubts. These doubts stem not from an enemy voice whispering in our ears but rather the Spirit’s illumination that we ourselves have made something of Jesus he is not. Even more, the notion that we have followed Jesus comes under scrutiny when we discover afresh the Way Jesus lived with God and others along the way.
How do we talk about these doubts? Certitude is the virtue of the “Evangelical” movement. We may certainly doubt some things. But, raise questions or express doubt in sacred theology or even more sacred methodology and you can be sure your card is revoked. And, while many sit in worship from week to week with these same questions and doubts, let the pastor raise them and that is unacceptable. After all, we need the pastor to be certain for us, even when we are not. We need the pastor to believe for us, even when we don’t.
David Dark wrote, The Sacredness of Questioning Everything, and Daniel Taylor wrote, The Myth of Certainty: The Reflective Christian & the Risk of Commitment. Reading these in the private and quiet of an office or at home is fine. Bring these notions out in the public and these are mis-understood as questioning “very God himself.” So, pastor, when you have questions who are your conversation partners? Conversation? You mean we can talk about these things?
The “norm” says no. Keep them quiet. I am with Scot McKnight, we do not know how to have serious theological conversations. I have beat the drum often here that one should read McKnight’s series on conversation he wrote a few years back(Pt 1, Pt 2, Pt 3). You may find it here. It could well be a handbook for “subverting the norm” when it comes to just how big a tent we may consider. In fact, you may want to follow Scot’s series this week on that very subject – that is, what will the shape of “evangelicalism’s tent” take in the future?
Likely you may be wondering just what have you learned from some of these intentional conversations? That is for, Part the Sixth.