Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Can Faith Exist Without Doubt?


I think most would answer yes, faith can exist without any doubt. For that seems to be the idea of what true faith is… Believing in something without any doubt or uncertainty.

Faith is usually defined in Christianity as… “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Heb 11). Often times people confuse this “certainty” and “surety” with absolute knowledge. Yet there are many events recorded in the scriptures of people doubting, questioning, and even accusing God. And these are not “pagans” from other belief systems or other religions. No, these are some of the very “friends” of God. Abraham, Moses, Job, David, Jeremiah, and more stand before God passionately questioning him, and doubting his deeds.

And God, instead of becoming angry and insulted with this obvious uncertainty, actually seems to engage with his “accusers” all the more.

I tend to find great comfort in this. While some would write these instances of accusations and outburst off as weak moments or signs of a broken relationship between creator and the created, it actually seems to be just the opposite.

The fact that Abraham is able to stand before God and say, “will not the judge of all the earth do right?”, actually speaks of a very passionate, strong relationship between Abraham and the divine.

Put it this way… Faith is following someone even when you are sometimes/most of the time uncertain where they are leading. It is having the courage to say, “My God, why have you forsaken me,“ and yet in the midst of the uncertainty remain faithful.

Peter Rollins, in his book, “How (not) to speak of God” relates the issue to wedding vowels.

If on my wedding day, I am standing at the alter with my wife to be, Melissa, about to recite my vowels, claiming that I will never leave Melissa, for better or for worse, sickness and in health, until death do we part. All the while, somehow being 100% sure of how our life would turn out. I know that all of our plans are going to work out perfectly. We are going to have four perfect children, plenty of money to support our lifestyle and our four perfect, healthy, kids, I will always be this good looking, and we will live very happily with one another always being in love.

Do the vowels that I am reciting to her really mean anything? No, because there is no risk involved if it’s a sure thing. There is no faith, just facts.

On the contrary, it is because I don’t know how things are going to turn out. I don’t know if we will always be healthy. I don’t know if we will have 4 perfect children, and I don’t know if we will forever and always be head over heels in love with each other. This is why the vowels are so sacred and meaningful, not because I am sure, but exactly because I am not, and yet I choose to commit to loving her and being with her (no matter what) for the rest of her life.

1 comment:

Paul Tilly said...

Well said bro. I would also add that I feel there is a difference between doubt, and uncertainty. Faith is believing in the face of uncertainty, while doubt is sometimes simply the act of not believing at that moment at all. I know thats just semantics, but I think there is a difference. I also agree whole heatedly with what you say about Gods reaction. Both - in my opinion - to doubt and uncertainty.

Well said as usual.