Wednesday, September 14, 2016

I Doubt It

Being a doubting Christian is all the rage again because it’s supposed to signal your humility and non-judgmentalism.  It’s mostly a way to avoid hard answers and actions that require a commitment to the truth.  For example, everyone agrees to disagree on abortion or fornication, but disagrees to agree on things like the Creeds and the Confessions.

So opines Tim Wood in describing All Souls Church of Austin, TX, which advertises on its main page: QUESTION EVERYTHING – Even your doubts.  This trend in Christianity to embrace doubt has become mainstream, and those with celebrity status—sadly, there is such a thing—have been leading the cause.  In past years, Brian McLaren and Rob Bell led the way by constantly asking, “What if?”  While the question may be legitimate, no answers were offered—only the constant plea to continue the conversation.

Some writers and speakers have even become established for promoting doubt in Christian circles.  One of the most notable is Rachel Held Evans who became the butt of a post on the satirical site The Babylon Bee entitled “Rachel Held Evans Suffers Momentary Lapse of Doubt” with the lede:
“Horrifying.” That’s how author Rachel Held Evans described a recent moment of absolute clarity, in which she found herself believing God’s Word without a twinge of doubt.
Satire works so well because of its underlying truth.  Evans and other writers/speakers have championed the cause of questioning formative Bible teaching, while the state of uncertainty has become the new spiritual norm for Christendom.

This worldview has been popularly named post-modernism, being a reaction to rationalism that preceded.  Thinkers began to notice that reason was unable to carry mankind to the next level, so some began to deconstruct the faultiness of what had been purported, but, along the way, also they did the same for truth.  What was readily established with physical evidence and natural law was brought into question in order to consider alternative realities based on personal or communal experience.  Universal constructs were eschewed.  We now live in a society relishing in the dismissal of natural law so that groups can live by their own standards.

While we might expect the world to cast off such restraint, we would not expect so of the Church, yet so-called forward-thinking writers within the Christian milieu have determined that culture is the norm and rule of faith, rather than Holy Writ.  In a further move to entice the world with supposed relevance, local evangelical assemblies are seduced into believing that we are not to hold onto truth, but let mutual circumstances and gathering points be our guide.  No longer should we affirm:
Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.  (John 20:30-31)
No longer can we trust:
I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.  (1 John 5:13)
The mantra of relevance to which we might possibly cling (should we be so inclined) is now:
This is what Jesus means to me in my part of the journey, if you don't mind me saying that; and you can join in the same relationship, if you find yourself in a similar circumstance of life.
How does this help?  If we were “dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind” (Eph 2:1-3), in what sense can we offer anything of ourselves that might help another?  We have nothing.  We can only point to and proclaim with certainty the revealed and attested truth of our most holy faith in the grand redemptive work of the Triune God, bound up in the finished work of Jesus on the cross.

An objection will be raised: “Doesn’t everyone have doubts?  I mean, even godly people in the Bible did.”  Yes, they did.
Why do You hide Yourself in times of trouble?  (Ps 10:1)
Will You forget me forever?  (Ps 13:1)
Awake! Why are You sleeping, Lord?  (Ps 44:23)
And that is only a small sampling.  Of course, there is doubt, because we do not know the end from the beginning, but in each case, there is the certain assurance of a God who is faithful in keeping His promises, who will act on behalf of His own.  We trust in that much as the desperate father who went to Jesus to cure his son: I believe; help my unbelief!  The father still had doubts about the final outcome, but he trusted in the ability of the One to whom he made his request.

We have a truth to proclaim—one which innumerable believers have died to uphold in stark contrast to the culture.  Let us consider so great a salvation.

You have been raised from your death.  Because Christ now lives and reigns, you too live.  Confess your faith boldly.  “This is the catholic faith; which except a man believe faithfully and firmly, he cannot be saved.”  That isn’t a work to lead you toward righteousness.  Rather, it is a proclamation and confession that your sins have been burned away, and washed over by the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost.  This reality is one to be boldly believed and unwaveringly trusted.  Trust it.  Repent, and believe the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Gaven Mize, “The Holy Trinity,” Gottesdienst Vol 24.2

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