Tuesday, July 13, 2010

[When Doubts Assail]

I began my Christian walk in an independent fundamental Baptist church; I'd grown up in church, don't get me wrong, and I'd always believed in some form, but when I decided to commit my life to Christ, I went to that church.  A lot of what was taught in that church has troubled my walk for many years.  It was a literal translation of the Bible, or nothing.  If you had doubts, well, that meant that you weren't really saved. Dinosaurs existed in the Garden of Eden, and the earth was only six thousand years old.  These tenets, I have no doubt, were well-meant, but in the long run, they have hindered my walk, especially when faced with doubts and a nagging belief that perhaps the earth is a little [lot] bit older than I'd been taught.  So, often, I found myself asking God to save me again and again.  I had doubts, after all!

Eventually, I walked away from that life, but not my faith entirely.  I've never been able to do that, even when I wanted to.  Through reading, praying, and studying how the Holy Writ was written, I've learned that my doubts don't necessarily mean eternal condemnation, and perhaps believing in old earth creation is an even stronger belief in God's omnipotence (after all, what's more intricate: snapping One's fingers and it all being as it is today, more or less, or starting the ball rolling billions of years ago, with an end in mind, and somehow allowing it all to happen naturally as it was always intended?  I lean toward the latter.).  I believe in ghosts and that, in spite of what I was taught, they aren't all demonic.  Sometimes, I believe, we linger--some even until judgment day.  But I digress...

I'm extremely grateful to Truman State for providing a class on Hebrew scriptures that detailed how the books of the OT came to be today.  By understanding the different storytelling techniques used in the Bible, such as history AND oral tradition.................................................

Okay, so I'm not going to detail it all. I don't currently have the presence of mind to state things exactly right this morning.  Instead, I'll get to the point.  This is who I am today:

I'm a doubter.  And that's okay.  Because in spite of these doubts, I still believe.  The two are not mutually exclusive.  I doubt that the earth was created in six days, but I don't doubt that God created the earth; and yes, I do doubt that homosexuality is a sin (and, no, that is not a thinly veiled confession of my own homosexuality, because I'm still quite annoyingly boy-crazy and show no signs of changing there).  Yes, I know what it says in Leviticus, but I'm thinking of when it was written down, and I'm more inclined to suspect that scholars at a later date recorded a lot of the Pharisaically detailed laws and regulations in response to surrounding culture than necessarily direct revelation.  I'll admit that I could very well be wrong there (and no, I'm not interested in debating the topic... I find debate exhausting and stressing), but as ever, I would rather err on the side of giving too much grace.  Either way, on this side of eternity, I don't believe we can be certain.  So what do I take literally?  Well, Christ's words, for one.  Paul's teachings that aren't specific to individual issues that had risen in certain churches (i.e., those related to gender, I believe, had more to do with culture and striving for peace within the body of the church, rather than some universal dictate on how all men and all women in all times should correlate in the church).

In other words, I believe faith to have a lot more gray than black or white.  It's complex.  I do know that I have to believe.  My heart and soul yearn for Christ, quite sincerely.  That doesn't mean I don't have doubts, and sometimes they're stronger than I'd like.  All the same, both manage to coexist within me, and I welcome that.  If I didn't, and if I never doubted, I wouldn't have faith; I would be brainwashed. It is a real, changing, growing, developing faith; sometimes weaker, sometimes stronger.  I try to learn as much as I can, pray about it, think about it, study about it, and hope that I'm on the right path.

That's where I stand today, and I hope it made some sense.

Next time I write, I expect to be a little more lighthearted. :)

1 comment:

Smalltown Girl said...

I used to have doubts similar to yours; especially about creation. I used to try to figure it out: maybe God's days aren't 24 hour days...

Now I have come to the realization that it is not my job as a Christian to understand the ways of God, but I am to believe that the Bible is God's Holy word and it is his inspired word. To that end, I know that some books are meant to be read like poetry like Psalms, some are pieces of wisdom like Proverbs (but not meant to be taken as a guarantee), but most are meant to be taken literally and we can tell the difference by the way they are written. I believe Genesis is one meant to be taken literally. How that works with science (which I used to study in college before switching to English), I don't know. I've decided to trust in God...not so much in science. I like to remind myself about how science has been wrong in the past even though they were sure they were right (the earth is flat and the center of the universe, you should bleed the disease out of people, flies were spontaneously generated out of meat, etc), and we now see how ridiculous they were.

That's how I try to turn my doubts around. Good luck and God Bless.