For some people who have known me the past couple years, to think of me as a Christian might be a new idea. For some of that time I have neither affirmed, nor participated in that faith. While getting into the reasons why would be far too long of a blog post, it is sufficient enough to say that between negative life experiences with the Church (re: followers/people) and intellectual doubts (re: evolution/philosophical critiques, etc.) I found myself feeling like the most honest position was no position at all. I needed to state that this was not who I was. I wasn’t sure who exactly I was, but I wasn’t, as I so often remarked, “very religious anymore.” Even in this period, I felt a huge pull inside. I couldn’t deny my past experiences, nor could I deny the numerous positive experiences people around me were going through. I did eventually come back, but I haven’t completely left behind many of the doubts. In a sense, I came back to the faith kicking and screaming.
While this is a dramatic image, it is how I’ve felt myself come back into being a theist, and specifically a follower of Christ. There was no monumental experience where I was slapped by the Holy Spirit or anything, just a quiet inner struggle where I relented and said, “Yes, I do believe there is a God, and that God is the triune Christian God,” Even in this, I still haven’t shaken many of my doubts. If anything, they’ve only increased. Some might say that this is spiritual warfare, and I only need to pray harder. Others might say this is a sign that I’m not really “saved.” Still others might say I’m almost there, I just need to take that leap of faith. But I don’t think this is the case.
What if there is another way? A path where the nearly atheistic affirming doubts I have are part of, even necessary to, my faith. What if experiencing this doubt, providing a place for it, is essential and even healthy? I think there is and more importantly I think it would be a welcome addition for many in the church to hear that there is a space and place for serious doubt and inquiry. If, as Christians, we are supposed to take Jesus as our example, then what are we to do with his doubting in the garden? Or his question to God on the cross? The sermons I grew up listening to explained them away as follows; Jesus immediately stated that it’s “not my will but yours (meaning the Father’s)” and that this phrase on the cross was simply referencing David and the Psalms.
Even with that, it seems almost as if Jesus was engaged in doubt. If this is so, then why shouldn’t we?
More to the point, shouldn’t there be a place for both atheistic and theistic questions in the church? Shouldn’t it be ok to reside in that space between faith and doubt, freely able to exist in both spaces?