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The Future of Doubt

September 2, 2011

Maybe it’s nothing new, but it seems everybody is focused on the future these days.  Even the future of abstract things like faith. I haven’t seen “the future of doubt” phrased yet, but I imagine someone before me has done it. 

I don’t have time to get deep or analytical about it, but did at least want to note that all levels of leadership and study on religion in America are quite abuzz about doubt. Related to this, about the direction of faith, of institutional religion (Christianity in particular, here), etc.

Even a number of prominent Evangelicals have aired their doubts in ways seldom seen in recent times (one has come to expect it of “liberals”).  Many others have quietly struggled with doubts on many levels and ultimately left their churches, “the faith,” or even belief in God entirely.  What about you? Care to share some of your thoughts and the processes you’ve gone through?

I will conclude by including just below the response I made to a recent Christianity Today online article on doubt by Mark Galli.  (It was limited to 1000 characters so a bit “crammed.”) I was responding to the broader observation I’ve made that Evangelicals generally seem to be seriously avoiding dealing with the root concept issues that are driving much of the doubt that is being analyzed and discussed.  They don’t want to face the fact that for thinking, exploring Christians who like to look at factual foundations or “evidences” upon which to base a reasonable faith, orthodox Christianity has seriously flawed foundations…. So much so that for many of us, it cannot at all support the complex of interlinked doctrines that ultimately make no sense, have no real consistency (because the Bible is a collection of books, never writtten for thorough consistency though united in general themes). 

Anyway, here are my comments on Galli’s doubt article:

“It’s good to see the issue of doubt being addressed.  But there was a glaring omission: no discussion of what a great deal of the doubt “out there” is really about. Maybe “questioning/exploring” is a better term.  I am one who continued exploring Scripture deeply during and well beyond 11 college/graduate years at Biola/Talbot/Claremont and many in ministry. I know many who’ve gone a similar path. My “doubt” was not in the existence or goodness of God, but in the supposed “God-directedness” of the human institutions and how paths taken influenced and ultimately determined the books of the Bible and their content, and subsequently the main lines of biblical interpretation.  Taking just one core doctrine, do many question the origin and veracity of “substitutionary atonement?” They should, as this concept never appeared to be biblically clear to many of the early “Fathers” and other theologians since. The deeper one studies biblical authorship, etc., the less “orthodoxy” can be believed.”

What do you think?

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Emily permalink
    September 2, 2011 9:37 pm

    When one is a member of an orthodox church, “doubt” in itself is a sin. Doubt comes from asking too many questions; more questions without satisfying answers can lead to more doubt. Allowing doubt to steal into one’s thoughts and take residence is a sin against faith. As faith starts to erode, there are more questions. Open discussion is discouraged because we the “unstudied” don’t have all the facts. The Bible should be interpreted only from a certain perspective. When the “perspective” itself is questioned, one is now on the outside. If a person can face the outside courageously with a new faith, the questions do get answered satisfactorily, and doubt becomes an ally in the quest for one’s own truth.

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