The Big Dirty ‘D’

doubting thomas

“Whether your faith is that there is a God or that there is not a God, if you don’t have any doubts you are either kidding yourself or asleep. Doubts are the ants in the pants of faith.  They keep it awake and moving”
– Frederick Buechner

When the disciples told Thomas of the resurrection, he doubted.   Thomas, a disciple of Jesus, needed more.  He was fraught with uncertainty.

The grand narrative of the Bible does not shy away from doubt. We encounter ‘heroes’ of faith who languished within the depths of doubt.

Often our churches do not encounter doubt with any degree of maturity.  If we do not take doubts seriously, churches come across as merely trying to maintain a confortable faith ‘construct.’

It’s like a dirty word or something.

It is because doubt asks questions of carefully constructed theological and organizational structures.  Many of which serve as foundational to a faith that gives robotic answers to much of life’s mystery.

Doubt offers us an opportunity to explore anew the mystery of God.  It pokes holes in the construct.  Sometimes we claim to know so much, yet in reality we know so little.  In the midst of this world that celebrates certainty even within our church communities, uncertainty creates a doubt that is troublesome.

Pay attention to your doubts.  Pay attention to the questions those doubts are asking in the particular context in which you find yourself or your community asking them.

Here are a few questions those in my context are flirting with;

  • Can faith and science get along?
  • Why do bad things happen?
  • What about all the contradictions we find in scripture?

With doubt we have potential for new understandings and ultimately a new depth of faith.  Because if we follow our doubts into the realm of uncertainty and mystery, we may indeed find a deeper call to believe.

But what is faith if not for uncertainty?  For a faith of only certainty grows stagnant within the shallow waters of human concreteness.

Pursue your doubts with honesty.

What are your doubts?  Are you afraid to pursue them?  Why or why not?

I was privileged to participate in a weekend of doubting with the young adults of the Mennonite Church British Columbia conference. This was the best retreat I have been part of in my short pastoral career. Our doubts sparked a new depth in conversation unmatched in many ministry contexts which have avoid ‘the big dirty D’

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