by Wenda Dottridge
Bono said, "Without doubt, I do not have faith."
And my concept of God and my relationship to him fundemenatlly changed.
It's not like Bono was the first philosopher to put forward this assertion. But his words carried weight with me because...well, it was Bono, the hottest rock star on the planet, duh! And I was twenty years old.
But the heft of those seven words, cast out during one of those typical rock star interviews on some afternoon chat show never went away. Long after I'd thrown out my Joshua Tree and War cassettes (I did buy the CDs, after all), I continued to turn those words over and over in my mind.
Faith requires doubt. Doubt opens the door to faith.
You don't hear many preachers encouraging their parishoners to embrace doubt in order to experience faith. In fact, the very notion of doubt seems contrary to organized religion.
Religion is meant to provide certainty and absolutes in a crazy, messed up world.
And God is the absolute absolute. Immutable. Unchangeable. Certain. The sure thing.
|(Religious Gifts 19)|
And yet, the author of Hebrews defined faith this way: Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. (Heb 11:1 NIV)
We are to place our faith in the future that is unknowable and to be certain of the unseen. The untasted. The untouched. The invisible.
If we are to believe the scriptures, we are to eschew material goods as temporary and unreliable and to embrace a God we cannot see or touch. We are to believe in a resurrection that happened outside our direct experience. In short, we are to have faith. Even in the face of our doubts.
Or, according to Bono, maybe because our doubt points to our capacity for rational thought and critical thinking, we believe not blindly or as if we were drones incapable of any other response (like those poor slobs fueling the Matrix - but that's a topic for another blog). No, we believe by choice in the face of all other choices.
So, then I have to ask myself, if I doubt, why do I believe?
If I were like CS Lewis, I could build you the syllogism he used to lay out the evidence for belief in God. I love the construction of sound logic, and especially love it when it supports my beliefs. But philosophy did not bring me to faith. God did.
Jesus says before his ascension to heaven that he will send a comforter, a friend, to be with us always. We know from scripture he referred to the Holy Spirit, the third, and often forgotten person of God. We are comfortable as little children praying to Jesus or to the Father, but are more hesitant about reaching out to God, the Spirit. The person of God who dwells with us and in us and confirms our belief and counsels our days.
It is by God's spirit that I believe. It is by accepting God's spirit in my life, by listening to him, through scripture and other believers and even to that still, small voice inside, that I come to know God and trust him. It is through hard choices and failures and the continual reassurance of his presence, that faith grows larger than doubt.
And through doubt faith is exercised. That I am pushed to seek God's presence. To become certain of what I do not see, I must trust in what I know.
What is faith to you?