I slept in a little this morning but I guess that’s the luxury of being retired. It’s quiet, I have my first cup of dark roast in hand, and God is already talking to me. The word “doubt” comes to mind for some odd reason.
Doubt is one of those words that Christians are uncomfortable with. As one Christian says, “In believers, it is usually a weakness of faith, a wavering in the face of God’s promises (note 1).” Jesus was constantly getting after his disciples for doubting:
“Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. You of little faith, he said, why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:31).
But, we all doubt – don’t we? If I told you that your spouse was cheating on you, wouldn’t you have some doubt and require some kind of proof before you believed me? I certainly hope you would. In our litigious society people are accused of many things every day. We may or may not believe the alleged accusations until there’s sufficient proof. We have a system that requires proof. We must eliminate all doubt!
No one is immune to doubt at one time or another. In an article written by Jesse Carey in Relevant Magazine, he writes about “7 Prominent Thinkers Who Wrestled With Doubt” including Mother Teresa, Martin Luther, C.S. Lewis, and Pope Francis (note 2). You can read the article here.
Our third President and author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson, was a doubter. I get a kick out of those who believe America to be a Christian Nation and cite a quote or two from Thomas Jefferson. I’ll have to admit, he was a Christian – my kind of Christian anyway! Jefferson said, “I am a real Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus (note 3).” He went on to edit the Bible to his standards, cutting and pasting to create his own Bible, and wrote to a friend:
“I find many passages of fine imagination, correct morality, and of the most lovely benevolence; and others again of so much ignorance, so much absurdity, so much untruth, charlatanism, and imposture, as to pronounce it impossible that such contradictions should have proceeded from the same being.” See a pdf copy of Jefferson’s Bible here.
I may be like Jefferson in his thinking but I’m more like one of the twelve apostles who doubted. He even earned the nickname “Doubting Thomas.” He had followed Jesus through his ministry and was an eyewitness to all of the miracles that Jesus performed. He was there when they fed 5,000 men (more than that if you include the women and children) from scraps of bread and a couple of fish (Matthew 14:13-21). Yet, after Jesus died, he said:
“Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe (John 20:25).”
And Jesus gave Thomas the proof he needed. He allowed him to feel the hole marks in his hands and where the soldier speared him in the side of his chest. Thomas believed.
Being the agnostic that I am, that’s where I stand. I’m leaving room for belief, but there’s gotta be some proof to make me a believer. As Leslie Hazleton says in her newest book, Agnostic: A Spirited Manifesto (note 4), “Belief insists while faith hopes and trusts.” She goes on to say, “You need belief only when you are not sure. Belief is the product not of knowledge, but of uncertainty. It contains within itself the possibility of disbelief.”
I’ll end my thoughts by saying that I doubt like the apostle, Thomas. He was given immediate proof. I am still waiting. But right now, I have little doubt that a second cup of dark roast awaits me. Peace!
1. Altrogge, M. (2017). Doubt Definition and Meaning – Bible Dictionary. Bible Study Tools. Retrieved 11 July 2017, from http://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionary/doubt/
2. 7 Prominent Christian Thinkers Who Wrestled With Doubt. (2014). RELEVANT Magazine. Retrieved 11 July 2017, from https://relevantmagazine.com/god/7-prominent-christian-thinkers-who-wrestled-doubt
3. The Bible According to Thomas Jefferson – TheHumanist.com. (2012). TheHumanist.com. Retrieved 11 July 2017, from https://thehumanist.com/magazine/march-april-2012/features/the-bible-according-to-thomas-jefferson
4. Hazleton, L. (2017). Agnostic: a spirited manifesto. New York: Riverhead Books.
One thought on “Doubt”
I like the last paragraph of the article in the Humanist about “The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth,” Jefferson’s Book. “Looking at the Jefferson Bible should teach people on all sides of the debate to be very skeptical when someone of their tribe quotes a Founding Father to prove that he was an ally in their cause,” Waldman says. “It’s easy to cherry-pick the Founding Fathers’ quotes to ‘prove’ that they were either orthodox Christians or they were secular. They were neither. Their religious views were complex and fascinating and they don’t lend themselves to being pigeonholed or used in the modern culture wars. When you do that, you distort reality.”