Faith in Doubt, Doubt in Faith

Qohelet, the primary voice of Ecclesiastes, has a penchant for hedging.  There is no profit in wisdom or foolishness – the wise and the foolish will both die alike – but it’s probably still better to be wise.  Ultimately, God is inscrutable, but we should probably honor God anyway.  Is this capitulation to the common wisdom that Qohelet spends so much effort dismissing?  Or is this its own kind of wisdom?

The modern project has been an attempt to nail things down.  We look at the data, determine the best course, and do it.  Right?  The task of understanding Scripture is to narrow down the possible meanings until we find the right one.  Right?  The job of the Christian is to believe all the right things about God and Jesus and salvation.  Right?  Post-modernists say no – and it seems that Qohelet is right there with them.  There is never any certainty, not in life and not in faith.

I remember hearing the altar call as a youth.  Being at a camp filled mostly with Christians, it might seem odd to have an altar call.  I mean, we’re already on board.  But the question wasn’t just, “Are you saved?”  It was, “Do you know that you know that you know?”  When you put it like that, I think I better double dip.  Just in case.  Salvation, it seems, is about certainty.  Faith is about knowing.

But for Qohelet and for post-moderns and for many mystics throughout the history of the Church, faith is not really about knowing.  In fact, it is a brutal recognition of our inability to know, our constant, enduring uncertainty.  In faith, we embrace the mystery, the unknown, the nurturing abyss.  We call this enigma “God.”  In that context, how can faith be anything but a struggle – to do right, to love well, to create justice, to be comforted, to be saved?  Perhaps the faithful life is a life of questions and answers loosely held.

Please join us this Sunday, 11am at Kidd Springs Rec Center, as we discuss the questioning of faith and the faithfulness of questioning.

Grace & Peace,

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