Tag Archives: doubt

From Descartes to Indiana Jones

Posts in the Sermon Prep: Doubt series

  1. The Third Rail – Doubt
  2. Digital Art Photos
  3. 7 Days of Doubt
  4. From Descartes to Indiana Jones

Here’s the audio from today’s message (not sure if the audio player is working, so I’ll just put a download link.

Faith … and Doubt (sermon audio)

If you don’t want to listen to the whole thing, here’s the outline:

  1. Descartes was awesome, but misguided.
  2. The world has embraced Descartes’ definitions for “know”, “believe”, “rational”, and “faith”.
  3. The church, too, has embraced Descartes skepticism, albeit with differing results.
  4. Some try to meet the evidential standard, by mustering evidence to prove the tenets of faith beyond all doubt. The Christian Apologetics movement is a result of this impulse.
  5. Some concede that the standard of rational certainty can never be met, and allow skeptics to define faith as irrational. This also allows them the freedom to ignore any logical impediments presented by new scientific evidence, challenging passages of scripture, and to uncritically accept everything received by tradition.
  6. Both reactions are wrong, because they concede Descartes’ definitions.
  7. Faith is not irrational, and it is not the opposite of doubt.
  8. Faith is the commitment to something as true, on the basis of good evidence, but where certainty is impossible.
  9. Indiana Jones is awesome, except for the last movie.
  10. We don’t have to fear doubt. Everyone doubts. Everyone from Hebrews 11, everyone in church history, even me, even Mother Teresa.
  11. Three things we should do when we doubt.
  12. Keep worshiping (Matthew 28:17)
  13. Keep fellowship (John 20:26)
  14. Keep reading (John 20:31)
  15. These are all acts of faith. They are not irrational, they are not certainty, they are faith.

If you want the full experience (minus the actual experience!), you can download everything here:

Faith … and Doubt (manuscript)

Faith … and Doubt (keynote presentation)

Previous in series: 7 Days of Doubt

7 Days of Doubt

Posts in the Sermon Prep: Doubt series

  1. The Third Rail – Doubt
  2. Digital Art Photos
  3. 7 Days of Doubt
  4. From Descartes to Indiana Jones

I’m reading Matthew Henry’s commentary on John 20, and he makes an observation that I hadn’t noticed before. In the “Doubting Thomas” story, 8 days pass between Thomas’ proclamation of doubt, and Jesus reappearance to confirm his resurrection. Henry’s interpretation is that the delay serves as a kind of rebuke to Thomas.

That’s not what struck me, though. Thomas basically calls the disciples fools, and says “Someone has duped you, but not me.” And yet, when the story picks up 8 days later, Thomas is hanging out with the 12 (11 at this point, sans Judas). He’s still part of the community, still in the fellowship. Imagine what those 8 days must have been like! What else would the other disciples be talking about, apart from the resurrection? It had to have been the topic at every meal, every gathering. The resurrection, what it meant, what they should be planning for the future. I wonder if, when the week had passed, Thomas had begun to hope that it was true, if he was prepared to believe it, or if he become cynical in the face of their foolish (to him) faith.

I like the precedent that this sets for the church and those of us who are doubters in her midst. There is space for puzzling through, without breaking fellowship.

Previous in series: Digital Art Photos

Next in series: From Descartes to Indiana Jones

The Third Rail – Doubt

Posts in the Sermon Prep: Doubt series

  1. The Third Rail – Doubt
  2. Digital Art Photos
  3. 7 Days of Doubt
  4. From Descartes to Indiana Jones

A week from this Sunday, Chad and Erica will be leading worship at our little dutch chapel in Orange County, and I will be bringing the bible-thumping fiery rhetoric from the pulpit. You should definitely come check it out. Or, if not, you should at least help me plan my message.

I think I’m going to talk about the third rail of the life of faith: doubt.

Here, let me make it a little spookier:

DOUBT!

Topics on the table:

Doubting Thomas
Mother Theresa
Mark 9:24

So – hit me. If you had to put a percentage on is, what’s the ratio of belief to doubt for the things in your personal creed? How influential is the belief of others in reinforcing your belief? Do you feel the freedom to express honest doubt about fundamental things (scripture, resurrection, omnipotence) when you’re in the company of other believers? And most importantly, Doug, will I still have a job waiting when I get back? For that matter, Phil, will I still have a job waiting when I come before the faith interrogation high council?

Next in series: Digital Art Photos

Faith = Doubt

Without doubt, there can be no faith.

Webster’s defines the word “Faith,” as follows:

1a: allegiance to duty or a person : loyalty b (1): fidelity to one’s promises (2): sincerity of intentions 2a (1): belief and trust in and loyalty to God (2): belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion b(1): firm belief in something for which there is no proof (2): complete trust 3: something that is believed especially with strong conviction ; especially : a system of religious beliefs

I hadn’t looked up this definition when I started crafting this post in my head. I was hoping against hope that there would be something like the, “Firm belief in something for which there is no proof,” statement. I was immensely gratified to read it, as it props up my little thesis.

Without doubt, there can be no faith.

Near the very end of the last Gospel, in John chapter 20, we find the story of Doubting Thomas. Thomas was the Apostle who wasn’t buying the news that Jesus had been resurrected. He was rational, cool, and frankly, pretty well reasoned in his statements.

“Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.”

Downright reasonable, if you ask me.

A week later, Jesus shows up, and has Thomas go ahead and get a nice, long feel on those scars. Thomas falls to his knees and exclaims, ”My Lord and my God!” Jesus, being Jesus, has this awesome little zinger for him.

“Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

I haven’t seen Jesus. I haven’t put my hands on his scars. I didn’t see Him forming the foundation of the earth. I don’t know how it will all shake out in an end times scenario. I am not certain that every Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh, Atheist, and Democrat will all burn in eternal damnation. I have a sneaking suspicion that God is greater and kinder than our little, offensive value judgements. I have also, in my darkest moments, been terrified that this whole Jesus thing is just a big sham, a human construct to give some meaning to our random, miniscule existence.

But still … I believe.

At the end of the day, I cannot shake the feeling loose that the words and teachings of this Jewish carpenter are not from this world. At the end of the day, I calculate my doubts, and I calculate the evidence, and realize that this equation will simply not balance out, and I take a deep breath, and make a choice to hold some things in a state of unresolved tension, and I simply… believe.

Jesus of Nazareth, The Lion of Judah, the Alpha and Omega, said that I will be blessed in the presence of my fully reasonable doubts, for I am a man of faith.

10 Days of Christmas: Mary Ponders

Posts in the 10 Days of Christmas series

  1. 10 Days of Christmas: Rulers from their Thrones
  2. 10 Days of Christmas: Matthew 1
  3. 10 Days of Christmas: Mary and her Donkey
  4. 10 Days of Christmas: Of The Father’s Love Begotten
  5. 10 Days of Christmas: The Kenosis
  6. 10 Days of Christmas: Mary Ponders
  7. 10 Days of Christmas: The Meaning of It All

How much did Mary know about the things that were happening in her, and through her? How much of Isaiah and Micah had percolated into her understanding from brother or father, some man who had received some formal training, who had been taught to read the texts? When she breathed the word “Messiah”, what collection of ideas did that word stand in for?

Mary treasured up these things, and pondered them.

I would love to know the pathways that her mind ran down as she marveled. The months between the angel and the birth must have seemed an eternity – certainly long enough for doubt to creep in. Did he really say … does this really mean … will he really be …

When the shepherds arrived, with stories and songs, it must have been a flood of emotions, confirming everything that Mary had been told.

Unto you is born this day a child, and He is Christ the Lord.

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