Doubters

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and have mercy on those who doubt  Jude 22

Doubts are real.  Some have doubts that keep them from faith. Others have doubts that continually nag their faith. Doubt need not prevent or corrode true faith but it needs the right prescription. True doubt is predicated upon faith in that it would not be possible to doubt unless there were something out there which is worth believing. And so “doubt comes into the world through faith” as Kierkegaard once scrawled in one of his journals.

Doubt ought not to be condemned.  It is not necessarily corrosive to Christian faith to ask tough questions, wrestle with what we read in the Bible, or even swallow hard on some difficult aspects. Often doubts are stepping stones on the path to greater faith. We even have an Apostle know for his doubts (although he recovered and made a great confession). So doubt ought not to be condemned or the doubter vilified.

 

But neither should doubt be congratulated. Living in the “age of authenticity” as we do, often to doubt is to appear deep, real, or true to yourself. Wrestling with difficult questions of faith is a normal part of growing up as a Christian disciple. But to indefinitely chew upon questions is often a cover for a desire to not make commitments we ought to, or to pay the price for true maturity.  (what better way to not take steps God wants us to take – in the realm of our sexual behaviour, our wealth, or our ambitions or the surrender of our self-interested autonomy – than to perpetually wonder if he can be known or heard from?)

Doubters are neither to be condemned as faithless nor congratulated as the authentically deep.  They need mercy.  That’s Jude prescription. And why not turn our doubtfulness upon itself.  Why not doubt our doubts?  Or better yet, doubt our own desires that may form hidden motivations for doubts?  True and responsible doubting always leads to true and responsible searching. Undertaken in good faith such searching carries with it a promise that ought not to be doubted.  Seek, and you shall find… 

 

 

 

 

 

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Scoffers

Screen Shot 2016-01-26 at 1.52.06 PMBut you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers…”  Jude 17 ESV

 

We live in a cynical age.  One of the ways I know this is because much of the news consumed these days comes via comedians.  Don’t get me wrong, there’s a place for satire and sometimes they’re funny. But it speaks of how much we swim in an environment of mockery and scorn when our news is delivered within a steady diet of sarcastic jokes.

We ought not to be surprised when Christian faith falls under similar scoffing. It’s not like we weren’t told this would be the case (the apostles predicted it).

Scoffing (mockery, sarcastic scorn) comes through the media through explicit derision or just through the way it shows us faith or religious people. Bad examples of pastors, priests, churches, and so on are paraded and so loom large in the popular imagination.  All this serves to shame Christians.  We feel it, we may even shrink back from it.

Humour is from the angels.  Laughter is a blessed thing and everyone ought not to take themselves too seriously.  Scoffing, though, is diabolical in that in order to scoff one doesn’t need to stand for anything.  Irony is easy and cheap.  Sincerity is hard and costly.  To tear down another you don’t need to stand for or upon anything yourself.  This is true whether we’re atheist, agnostic, Christian, or something else, to sincerely stand is the harder job and makes one vulnerable to scoffing.

If we’re Christian, we ought not give in to the scoffing. We shouldn’t participate in the tearing down of others.  It’s too easy and we should do the harder thing. That is, perhaps disagree but do so from a place of understanding and respect.

And we’ll have to get used to enduring some scoffing.  Faithfulness takes the form of a hard forehead sometimes. What are the chances that a cable TV news anchor comedian will represent our beliefs fairly and charitably?  We ought not to be surprised.  We’ve been told.