How much can I doubt and still be a Christian? I once heard that Mother Theresa doubted her faith and yet I’m pretty sure she’s still firmly fixed inside the pantheon of iconic Christian exemplars.
I’ve also heard people say, “Everyone doubts. It’s okay.”
If so, that gives me some permission to doubt, right?
So I can doubt that Jesus was born of a virgin? I do have some serious doubts about that idea. And this is timely because I just read that Gary Burge, professor of the New Testament at Wheaton College, said if there wasn’t a virgin birth, the whole faith thing comes crashing down.
That means that this whole Christianity thing hinges on Mary getting impregnated by divine sperm?
oooeee, that’s a lot of weight for one lynchpin to hold.
The essentialness of his claim notwithstanding, I’m still going to doubt that one.
In fact, I would just like to park that particular doubt in the economy parking lot. I tend to be sort of prudent with matters related to my eternal soul particularly since there are so few options upon our departure of dear-yet-frequently-abused planet Earth. Now I find myself wondering how long I can entertain doubt without consequence. Because, and here’s what I’ve learned so far, I can have some pretty serious doubts, keep them to myself, and nothing bad happens. In real-time I mean. I know this because I’ve had some doozies; doubts like no heaven or hell, no omnipotent diety, no big boat with an exhaustive guest list of specie two-somes. And …
God as my witness, I found that very affirming. I even tested these doubts by order of magnitude like, go-ahead, imagine the biggest doubt a person could ever have. I played with that doubt too and guess what?
So no real-time consequences for private doubts. That’s pretty cool because once you figure it out, you can doubt all the time around anybody you want and it’s like this little secret thing you’re doing right next to them and nothing happens. Unfortunately, the coolness factor wears off pretty quickly because next thing is you want to do is say, “Hey, guess what?”
But that not really a good idea in many cases. When it comes to religion, like likes like. So, doubts not otherwise shared (NOS) draw no real-time penalty.
What about afterlife consequences though? If there are going to be serious afterlife consequences, I think, maybe, I could try and keep some of these crazy ideas in check. But what if I can’t? There has to be some provision, right? If the disciple Thomas, Mother Theresa and Pope Francis doubted, then there has to be some provision for someone like me. It’s not like I’m just doing it on purpose.
Also, I’m thinking that as long as I have a little warning before Peter blows his horn, I can reexamine those unorthodox ideas and wrestle them into submission. I mean, we do it all the time when we go to the movies or read a good compelling novel—suspend disbelief. And, bottom line, God is all about redemption right?
I suppose the biggest problem is openly sharing any doubts. While the head mind-reader appears to be okay with them, and that includes any order of magnitude, other people, like his followers, aren’t very tolerant. I mean draw a cartoon, read the wrong inspired word, misinterpret the right inspired word and, presto, some whack job wants to kill you.
I guess I’m going to continue to doubt. No harm, no foul right? And should there be any other genuine doubters out there, follow me on twitter.