This quote from Tim Keller’s The Reason for God has really challenged my thinking over the past two weeks:
“A faith without some doubts is like a human body without any antibodies in it. People who blithely go through life too busy or indifferent to ask hard questions about why they believe as they do will find themselves defenseless against either the experience of tragedy or the proving questions of a smart skeptic. A person’s faith can collapse almost overnight if she has failed over the years to listen patiently to her own doubts, which should only be discarded after long reflection. Believers should acknowledge and wrestle with doubts – not only their own but their friends’ and neighbors’. It is no longer sufficient to hold beliefs just because you inherited them. Only if you struggle long and hard with objections to your faith will you be able to provide grounds for your beliefs to skeptics, including yourself, that are plausible rather than ridiculous or offensive…”
The two questions I wrote in the margin of the book were as follows: “what do I doubt” and “what is the role of doubt within the context of Christian education?” I would like to talk through the former more personal question now and the latter question in my next post.
When I asked myself the question – what do I doubt? The answer was not immediately apparent. The first place I looked was at the traditional culprit – crisis. At the time of reflection and at the time of writing there is no crisis in my life, relationships, or circumstances. While many people seem to be living in a Dickens novel my life at this time feels more like an Asterix comic (near the inevitable banquet scene).
In the absence of identifiable doubt I started looking at the environment that could lead to doubt and this stark warning “A person’s faith can collapse almost overnight if she has failed over the years to listen patiently to her own doubts, which should only be discarded after long reflection.” I thought about the following questions in the context of my own spiritual life and I believe they have wider application among believers:
Am I relying on past spiritual experiences instead of present day spiritual vitality? Do I refer to things that God has done last year or even decades ago without any thought to what God is doing in my own life right now?
Does the absence of doubt reflect spiritual contentment or indifference? It is very easy (especially as men) to become invested in work or lifestyle pursuits that appear to fill the God-sized hole that we have in our lives. If life was a game of charades would I be labeled as content or indifferent?
Am I living towards my ultimate purpose? There are many good things that I could be doing with my time and relationships – but are they the best things? How does my life reflect my ultimate purpose?