Category Archives: Doubt

PASTOR TURNED SKEPTIC

A short time ago I read an article about a former pastor who became a skeptic.  The post 9/11 world did not make sense to him.  He figured there could be no God in such a world.  This kind of struggle of course is nothing new.

Andrew Delbanco has famously said Americans went from believing in the providence of God prior to the Civil War to believing in luck after it.  Too much carnage took place for one to keep believing in a God who is both good and in control of all things.

I also struggle to make sense of these realities, yet I am perplexed by those who choose to bail on the Christian faith.

The Bible makes it clear that we are living in a broken world where the most hideous things imaginable will take place.  Make sure to digest that important truth.  If “delicate women” will boil their own children for food (see Deut. 28:53-57), we know there is the capacity for all kinds of evil.

Further, if God had not made it clear that I will not understand many things this side of heaven, I also would consider bailing on the Christian faith.  However, God has made it clear we will only know in very small part.  There is quite a bit in Scripture on this truth (for example Deut. 29:29; Job 38-42; Isa. 55:8,9; I Cor. 13:12)

Luther, like the Psalmists (note plural) struggled with the silence of God, even the God who seems to hide Himself at times.  We should be glad for the candor of Scripture, but also chastened to remember we only now see in a “mirror dimly.”

So I wonder what Bible the pastor who bailed was reading.

IS JESUS GOD?

The man in the picture is biblical scholar and agnostic, Bart Ehrman.  His story of leaving the Christian faith is well-known.  His books are widely read and vigorously debated.
In my own correspondence with Ehrman I found him quite candid about doubt.  He admitted that how one chooses to look at the evidence for the Bible’s reliability greatly influences what conclusion one comes to.  For one scholar who came to a wholly different conclusion than Ehrman:

WH AUDEN AND GOD

“…in later years he made a point of quoting Georg Christoph Lichtenberg: ‘There is a great difference between still believing something and believing it again.’ All his beliefs were beliefs again.”

As one who has experienced some severe seasons of doubt about the Christian faith, I definitely resonate with this quote.

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2007/dec/06/auden-and-god/?pagination=false

DOES GOD STILL SPEAK?

Noted Stanford anthropologist (technically a psychological anthropologist), Tanya Luhrmann, has written a fascinating book. In it, she describes hanging out with various Charismatic Christians to determine whether they are actually hearing God speak or perhaps crazy.

Luhrmann’s account shows the limitations of saying one is a “detached observer.” Yes, she does serious academic work, and yes she seeks to be objective, but let’s face it, this is a decidedly subjective issue.

Luhrmann’s graciousness and even sympathy for those involved in her study moves her own beliefs some. Read and see what I am talking about, but more importantly, whether God is still talking today.

EMBRACING A CONFIDENT FAITH

Michael Wittmer’s new book has many commendable qualities.  Allow me to list six of them:
*It is accessible without being superficial.
*There are wonderful illustrations throughout.
*It is compassionate towards doubters, yet showcases how we can be properly confident (HT to Lesslie Newbigin) in the Christian faith.
*It is grounded in solid, orthodox Christianity, but is winsome in doing so.
*There is much help in understanding the difference between doubt and unbelief.
*There is a study guide at the end which actually includes thoughtful questions.

WHAT BIBLE ARE YOU READING?!

I decided to write this post before the flooding in Colorado and shootings in DC.  But then there are always evils and catastrophic events going on, many of which we are unaware of.

 

A short time ago I read an article about a former pastor who became a skeptic.  The post 9/11 world did not make sense to him.  He figured there could be no God in such a world.  This is nothing new.

Andrew Delbanco has famously said Americans went from believing in the providence of God prior to the Civil War to believing in luck after it.  Too much carnage took place for one to keep believing in a God who is good and in control of all things.

I also struggle to make sense of these realities, yet I am perplexed by those who choose to bail on the Christian faith.

The Bible makes it clear that we are living in a broken world where the most hideous things imaginable will take place.  Make sure to digest that important truth.  If “delicate women” will boil their own children for food (see Deut. 28:53-57), we know there is the capacity for all kinds of evil.

Further, if God had not made it clear that I will not understand many things this side of heaven, I also would consider bailing on the Christian faith.  However, God has made it clear we will only understand very little this side of heaven when it comes to processing evil and suffering.  There is quite a bit underscoring this reality in Scripture (for example Deut. 29:29; Job 38-42; Isa. 55:8,9; I Cor. 13:12)

Luther, like the Psalmists (note plural), struggled with the silence of God, even the God who seems to hide Himself at times.

So I wonder what Bible the pastor turned skeptic was reading.  I trust you are reading and digesting the entire Bible!

 

 

HOMER SIMPSON’S INNER ATHEIST (PART 3)

This is my third and final post on Dan’s terrific book.  There is much I could say about The Skeptical Believer and the previous two posts will give you a good feel for my enthusiasm about it.  If you go to the categories on the right side of the home page and click “doubt” you will easily locate those previous two posts.

I appreciate Dan’s candor with his own struggles to believe, yet he remains hopeful and resolute in clinging to Christ.  He speaks with compassion to the doubter, but he is also willing to give a nice kick in the intellectual seat of the pants if it is called for.

If you struggle with doubt, or know someone who does, make sure to add this to your early Christmas list!

ATHEISM IS GOOD FOR CHRISTIANS

Atheism can help us Christians in many ways.  Christian philosopher, Merold Westphal, wrote a terrific piece called “Atheism for Lent.”  In it, he mentions how Marx, Nietzsche, and even Freud can help us better reflect the humility Scripture so regularly encourages.  Even though it is not Lent, these insights are valuable to consider any time of the year!

http://theotherjournal.com/2008/02/20/atheism-for-lent/