8 04 2013
The Incredulity of Saint Thomas by Caravaggio

The Incredulity of Saint Thomas by Caravaggio

In light of the Gospel reading yesterday, the text that has been dubbed throughout history as “The Doubting Thomas” text, I decided to lay out a few of my own thoughts on the topic of doubt.  For the most part these are my thoughts and my opinions, but they have been shaped, of course, by my education, my study of scripture, and my own relationship and experience  with God.  A special shout out goes to Paul Tillich and his book, Dynamics of Faith.  Without reading this book, I probably would not have been able to reconcile my personal thoughts and beliefs with my calling to be a pastor.

You see, I had many questions.  I had many doubts.  About God.  About Faith.  About organized religion.  About Jesus.  About creation. About life.  About death.  About evil.  About suffering and pain.  Just to name a few…

Oh…and by the way, I still have them.  Scandalous right?!

One thing I have learned when dealing with God and faith, anytime you answer one of your questions (that is of course if you can answer any of your questions) ten more questions appear.

It took me a long time to come to grips with this reality.  It took me a long time to be able to feel alright with my questions and my doubts.  And I won’t sit here and write to you saying that I’m alright all the time.  It’s something I still struggle with.

You see, for the vast majority of us, we are taught that questioning our faith and our beliefs is bad, it’s wrong, and it is a lack of faith.  We are taught to just believe what you are told in church because that’s the way it is.  Like when your child asks “Why is the sky blue instead of green?”  And you say, “Because that’s the way it is.”  Or “Why do I have to clean my room?”  The response almost always is, “Because I said so.”

It is as if our questions and our doubts might make God vanish, as if God can’t stand up to our criticism and questioning.

Hmmmm…just a guess, but I’m pretty sure God can handle my questions and my doubts…just saying.

And then we look into scripture and unbelievably we find God’s people questioning and doubting all over the place.  The Psalms are steeped in questions and doubts and even anger towards God.

Here is my opinion, how can we grow in our faith if we don’t question our faith, if we don’t question God, if we don’t question and think about how God works in the world?  We can’t.  Our faith becomes stagnant.

Doubts are normal.

Doubts are good.

Please question.

Please think.

Please search for answers.

The responses and actions that result from our doubts are far more life-giving, faith building, and Gospel sharing than the complacency, apathy, and smugness that comes from when we think we have the truth and all of the answers.

But don’t believe me…search for yourself.




3 responses

8 04 2013
Rev. Andrew D. Zoerb

Check out what happens in John 20:24-26! In particular, note verse 26 where Jesus comes again after one week! That means that Thomas didn’t just doubt, but he had to suffer in that doubt while the rest of his friends were celebrating. I guess I’d never really sensed that pause as I’ve read this story before. In the end, it makes discovering the risen Christ just that much sweeter…

8 04 2013
Derek Harkins

I agree Andy! I also like that in Thomas’ doubt and questioning Jesus still gives Thomas what he needs, albeit it took a week of stewing in his angst and discomfort.

8 04 2013
Rev. Luke Stevens-Royer

Nicely put, Rev! Scandalous, indeed. Good faith always is.

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