In Touch – May 4, 2012
Posted on May 5, 2012 by under Touché,

 Really??? The Intersection of Faith and Doubt

“Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.”  (Matthew 28:16-17)

I received a letter this week that starts: “Hi Pastor, here I sit, once again contemplating the whole God thing. I was almost a full fledged believer, I really was, but then tragedy, Owen Mulvey, a 5yr old boy, died.”

We know the story of Owen.  Bev Rieland was his teacher at the Ark and the Dove Preschool.  He was a boy that we had prayed for at HRC.  He was born with severe heart problems and after surgery and treatment which he came through well, he was given a good prognosis for the future.  Visiting a farm with his family, he was kicked in the chest by a horse and he died.  A shock, a tragedy, a heart break, and for the woman who wrote me the letter above (who gave me permission to share from her letter) it was a cause to question the existence of a loving God or whether there is a hand guiding this universe.

She is not alone.  Dostoyevsky, a Russian writer and profound believer, wrote that the “death of a single infant calls into question the existence of God.”   Annie Dillard says that one of the only theological questions worth asking is: “What in the Sam Hill is going on here?”  It is a question that we have all asked when confronted with tragedy, or confusion, or simply the profound and mysterious nature of our world.  I can understand that kind of doubt.

The doubt that is hard for me to understand is the doubt of the disciples.  The scene from Matthew 28 is clear.  The resurrected Jesus is standing before them just before he is to ascend into heaven.  They worshipped him but some doubted…REALLY??  These guys were there, face to face with the risen Christ.  What did they doubt?  That he was standing before them?  That he had risen?  That he was with them always?  That all authority in heaven and on earth had been given to him?  I am not sure, but this gives me hope, for faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things unseen.  The faith of these disciples was put into action that changed the world.  Faith and doubt may not be opposed to each other, but may be the very connection that leads to faith that changes the world.

I am reading the book Faith and Doubt by John Ortberg.  He asks the question about his title: “What if the most important word is the one in the middle?”  For the next four weeks we will look at this question.  We will look at biblical texts that raise the questions for us, and we will hear the testimony of those who come to faith through the asking of some very profound questions.  The woman who wrote me had no idea that we were headed into a series on doubt when she wrote the letter, but she followed it, when I asked for permission to use her letter, by saying that she was really looking forward to the series. I hope you are too. It starts on Sunday with Doubting Thomas.

Yours in Faith,