The Depths of Doubt

I believe that doubt is finally a trending topic within Western Christianity. Of course, I mean it's gotten a lot of Christian media attention over the past two years or so, and it's something I am intimately acquainted with.

I was first introduced to life-altering doubt a few years ago, when I lost most of what constituted my faith. To be honest, I'm not completely sure how it happened.
Looking back, it feels like I woke up one day and just thought "I'm done" although I'm sure there was a combination of circumstances that led me there. At any rate, I concluded that God likely either didn't exist or didn't care, and this in turn led to a solid two years of feeling spiritually homeless.
It was like everything got suspended. Nothing was off limits to examine. I questioned the resurrection, the virgin birth, the inspiration of the Bible, and, well, anything related to Christianity.

During this time, I was in the middle of making a CD (which I've since released - it's on iTunes, SpotifyAmazon and pretty well every other digital music retailer). If you listen carefully, you'll hear my struggle with doubt threaded throughout the music.

I can't remember where I heard this analogy, but it's as if I had a room full of theological furniture, and it was all wearing out. I'd been patching and rearranging it for a long time. Then one day, I decided it was time to stop repairing the ripped sofas and just throw everything out. So I was left with an empty room where "Faith" used to be. I knew if I didn't act carefully, I'd fill it with anything.

I needed something authentic and real to put in there. Not that theology isn't real or authentic, it's just that if theology isn't backed by something solid, it will become one more thing to use to make yourself look justified, smart, holy, together or with it. That something solid, I discovered, was Jesus himself. Slowly but surely Jesus is becoming the actual foundation of my whole world. Not the Bible, not ideas about God, not Church, not tradition. Jesus. Oddly enough, this creates some real problems because a Christian who puts Christ as the foundation of everything, including interpreting the Bible, is going to come to some seriously different conclusions than someone who puts theology, doctrine, the bible or tradition at the foundation. The problem comes in especially because Christ often isn't the centre of the religion that bears his name.

In a real way, the theological labyrinth I had built over the years was just a bunch of stuff. It was facts and figures that didn't really have any material impact on me. In fact, I would argue that for all of the theology and doctrine I learned over the years, I remained spiritually stuck throughout. No amount of Bible reading, Biblical instruction, or platitudes could get me out of that, because something inside my heart was fundamentally broken.

I came to see that I didn't need more theological furniture to arrange, I needed a foundational relationship to build. I needed not to know more things about God, but to know God as a person. The way forward for me was threefold: Doubt and pain processed within a loving community. I believe that the first two are universal human experiences. At some point, every human being on the planet doubts something central to who they think they are, and everyone who breathes will eventually experience trauma. But not everyone gets to process these things inside a loving community of people who are for you. This is where Christianity should shine, but often doesn't.

Here's how it went down for me: I first needed to doubt everything about everything I thought I knew about God. Then I needed a few of those "best worst day of my life" moments to put everything I thought I knew, even the new stuff, into perspective. I needed to be shaken up, and I can only see this in hindsight. This is hardly the stuff daydreams are made of, unless you are a terribly anxious person..

"Dear God, I would like to have my world turned upside down and the ground ripped out from under me. Yours truly, Me"

Yyyeeeaahhhh, no thanks. I think I'm good.

But the results of going through these painful moments intentionally with a few really close, solid friends yielded a much deeper more meaningful faith and trust in God than I had going in. For me, that's the point ... and I'm well aware of how upside down it seems.


Copyright © 2013 Think Theos