Sunday, 23 May 2010

Doubt

The other day, a woman told me the following story. One evening she gave an address to a church congregation. After the talk, a stern-faced member of the congregation came up and said, "You're a liberal, aren't you – but with none of the doubt." It's a nice way of putting it. If I'd been there, I suppose I would have been told that I'm an evangelical, but with all of the doubts.

16 Comments:

bruce said...

me too I'm afraid

michael jensen said...

But this is good. There have to be better places to doubt, right?

Erin said...

fantastic!
providence?
I'm going to try and work this into a sermon on persisting (despite cricumstance) to see God, a la Elijah. I'll try and footnote you, but you know how those things go.... :-)

JKnott said...

The idea that liberalism=doubt and conservatism/evangelicalism/orthodoxy/whatever= blind credulity is a nice narrative for liberals to tell themselves but I see no evidence for it. Trust and suspicion are always two sides of the same coin. The question is always what do you trust and given that what are you suspicious of.

Anonymous said...

something witty

Anonymous said...

something smart

Karl Hand said...

High five! Me so too :-)

Ched said...

I doubt it.

Matt Wilcoxen said...

"But in the face of his doubt, even if it be the most radical, the theologian should not despair. Doubt indeed has its time and place. In the present period no one, not even the theologian can escape it. But the theologian should not despair, because this age has a boundary beyond which again and again he may obtain a glimpse when he begs God, "Thy Kingdom Come!" Even within this boundary, without being able simply to do away with doubt, he can still offer resistance, at least like the Huguenot woman who scratched "Resistez!" on the windowpane. Endure and bear it!"

-Barth (from E.T.)

kim fabricius said...

Karl Barth's chapter on doubt in his Evangelical Theology is, indubitably, a germane little gem. Barth distinguishes two forms of doubt. The first is Socratic doubt, and is essential to an honest and humble, yet robust, interrogative faith. The second, however, is a devilish doubt, a sinister threat to faith, and while inevitable, it must be resisted, not valorised (and Barth adds mischievously, "I wish someone would whisper that in Paul Tillich's ear"). Of course, for Barth, even this second form of doubt is only a relative, not an absolute threat, because the divine faithfulness, not human faith, whether the size of a sequoia or a seed, is at the heart of salvation. And here the "faithfulness of Christ" interpretation of Paul's term pistis Christou nicely kicks in.

kim fabricius said...

Oops - or rather "Snap!" - Matt: your comment hadn't yet appeared when I began to type mine.

Pamela said...

I see myself as a "liberal" in an evangelical church (Sydney Anglican) and find the liberal=doubt offensive. I think it's healthy to have doubts - I wouldn't like to be so certain of such a mystery as Christianity. I think the best way to put how I feel is that "unbelief" doesn't seem an option. That doesn't mean "belief" is all I feel.

jfrederickp said...

Is it even possible to be a liberal in the Sydney Anglican church? This is an actual question.

Pamela said...

When you live in a regional area 200km from church you really want to attend it is. Some other "liberals" are in there with me.

Anonymous said...

Of course this stern faced "certainty" is what informs the blogs at First Things.

And all the right-thinking religionists that link into these blogs. This includes George Pell who writes occasional essays for the FT magazine.

Anonymous said...

Ben: You consider yourself an evangelical, but wouldn't your views be far more comfortably accepted in the mainline churches? What denominations would be said to house "liberals" these days?

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