territory

Doubt as a Companion to Faith

A true and living faith is never a destination; it’s a journey. And to move forward on this journey we need doubt. Faith is not based on certainty. Think of it this way. We often cling to certainty-seeking faith like one might a map as if the map itself is actually the territory. But our “map” of God is never the complete and fully truthful reflection of the territory. We can only be genuinely open to going deeper with God if we hold our maps in a flexible way.

This kind of openness recognizes the benefit of doubt. This kind of doubt makes room for us to struggle on the inside of our relationship with Jesus because our faith is not found in how certain we are, but in the faithfulness of Christ.

Exploring the doubts we might have inside this relationship allows us to be honest, open, and as objective as possible as we work through issues without fear that the faithful love of Christ for us hangs in the balance. And the freedom to explore these kinds of doubts makes us adept at remaining humble as we remember that our maps are always limited and tentative, whether we are talking about our relationship with God or other people. The map is not the territory.

With our confidence in the faithful love of the self-sacrificial character that Jesus displayed on the cross, exploring doubts can free us to honestly explore our map for ourselves. Knowing how easy it is to be self-deceived, this kind of doubt allows us to explore whether we really believe what we say we believe.

More importantly, it empowers us to better relate to God, whose perspective is always further beyond our own than the stars are beyond us. Doubts that you explore within your relationship with Jesus can give you the space to wrestle toward an ever-deepening, increasingly intimate relationship with another. Doubt is not the enemy of faith. It’s a much-needed companion.

If you’re among those who have felt the need to try to avoid doubt and strive for certainty, if you are among those whose security has been wrapped up in a commitment you made at some point in the past that you thought “sealed the deal” between you and God, or if you are one of those many who embraced the idea that faith is an invisible thing that has no necessary connection to how you live, day in and day out, maybe it’s time you consider a reframe. Maybe it’s time to let go of the certainty of your map and embrace the relationship.

—Adapted from Benefit of the Doubt, pages 150-152

Image by Alex Siale via Unsplash

Category:
Tags: ,

Related Reading

Court-of-Law Theology: How It Falls Short

Courtney “Coco” Mault via Compfight Last week, we introduced a way of talking about theology with concentric circles. This approach is distinct from the common Western model of theology that depends upon a court-of-law framework. The following is an excerpt from Greg’s book Benefit of the Doubt regarding this: ____________________________ Within the legal strand of…

9 Reasons Faith ≠ Certainty

One of the things that Christians typically believe in and that I’ve struggled with a great deal is the concept of faith. Like most Christians, I once assumed a person’s faith is as strong as that person is certain. And, accordingly, I assumed that doubt is the enemy of faith. That is, after all, how…

Drumming, Openness, Providence and Whatever

Here’s one of four arguments I offer in this essay against the view that an omniscient God must by definition know the future exhaustively as a domain of eternally settled facts.

Topics:

Past Sermon Series: Faith & Doubt

Faith is sometimes understood as the lack of doubt. As a result, doubt can be seen as the enemy of faith. But Biblical faith can withstand doubt and even be strengthened by it. God wants His people to wrestle with Him on the things that matter in their lives. We must not be afraid of struggling with deep…

The Benefit of the Doubt

In my last two posts (here and here) I’ve given five arguments against the common way Evangelical Christians tend to think about faith. More specifically, I’m calling into question the assumption that a person’s faith is as strong as they are free of doubt. I’ll conclude this line of questioning today by offering four other…

Tags: ,

Biblical Versus Magical Faith: Reflections on the ReKnew Manifesto

The second core conviction of the “ReKnew Manifesto” is that we believe it is time for the Church to re-think common assumptions about faith. Faith is at the heart of what it means to follow Jesus and to live under the reign of God. Yet Christians rarely seriously reflect on what it means to “have…

Tags: ,