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No need to run away or to dig in; you are free to doubt your doubt
My friend told me the other day that there were “doubt wars” happening on Twitter. (Welcome to 2018, where war is waged on Twitter.) I’m not sure it was much of a war, but as far as I can tell the quibble began when a popular conservative Calvinist blog posted about why doubt was “slander against the Almighty.”
Rachel Held Evans, a heavyweight on the other side of Evangelicalism, launched her attack back (many of my friends liked this Tweet, and Twitter alerted me to those events).
I guess that might constitute a war, with now two sides of the Evangelical spectrum fighting each other. It’s funny how focused Evangelicals can become on their own problems, while simultaneously divorcing themselves from the problems of the other side. Evangelicals can remove themselves from their reprehensible enemies on the other side of aisle and never have to be responsible for Christian hypocrisy as they see it.
I admit that “doubt” is not a big part of my faith. But I also admit certainty is not either. My God isn’t in my stomach, but God also isn’t in my mind either. My mental assent to truth is less important than how I am and what I do. Action and identity matter more to me than my thoughts. So doubt doesn’t come into play much with me. I am free to doubt and free to doubt my doubts. I don’t feel beholden to doctrine as if good theology is what saves me. But I do feel indebted to Christ, who has made a claim on me, one that I can’t genuinely remove from myself. The damage is done. Christ has shaped me in ways that mere doubt couldn’t threaten. But the way he’s shaped me wasn’t rooted in certainty either. So I find myself not on either side of the aforementioned “sides.”
I appreciate Rachel Held Evans’s response to John Piper’s blog network, since the author of the original post (Greg Morse) was like a bull in a China shop. I like her instinct to protect the weak and the vulnerable. It strikes me as odd that Greg was so aggressive against those who doubt. He already names them as weak, or at least with weak faith, and he comes out swinging with words like “dishonor, “slander,” etc.
The original post is so riddled with unnecessary judgment that it's hard to even find the few truths the author states. Strong faith is important for every community, but I think it's a gift rather than a discipline. The juxtaposition of strong meaning "good" or "true" and weak meaning "bad" and "false" is not found in the Bible. Seems to me the Bible condemns those who boast in their strength, as opposed to their weakness.
I get the feeling that Greg’s writing because some people have called doubt a virtue or something to be embraced, but that kind of response is more likely to solidify the opinions that it’s good. I would caution against making holy your doubt. However, I think people have double-downed on their doubt because they were condemned for it.
But I won’t do that. You are free to doubt in Circle of Hope. It’s OK to ask questions. You are free to doubt us if our Gospel isn’t authentic, or free to doubt Hellenistic theology formulated in the Patristic Period that is too influential today, or just to doubt what truths were given to you at your parent’s church or in your upbringing in general. You are free to doubt because Evangelicals are so hypocritical. You are free to doubt your own capacity and your own power and even your own confidence. Jesus saves you, not how capacious you are. We are doing something bigger together. There are people among us who doubt less, who have faith as a gift. You don’t have to do it alone. And you don’t have to have it all figured out.
Rachel Held Evans points out plainly that the Bible has a lot of instances when its characters doubt, and maybe even Jesus. I think that her point, or at least my point, is that doubt is a normal part of life. It’ll come and go. You are free to doubt your doubt too. Again, your certainty doesn’t save you and your doubt doesn’t condemn you.