Surprise. We are starting a week early – sort of a trial run – to see how this online-Bible-study-with-100+-participants is going to work.
A quick note to those of y’all who are not participants:
— Please read along as we go through the next 14 weeks, and contemplate the questions we’ll be tackling. It’s gonna be good!
— We will be utilizing the comment section as a forum for discussion for the participants only. I respectfully ask that – if you are not participating – that you refrain from commenting on the Reason for God posts, simply to help keep things well… simple.
— We have an incredible group of women representing various ages, faith backgrounds and life experiences – I hope you’ll check out all they’ll have to say.
I can’t wait to see all He is going to do through this study and it is my prayer that the participants, as well as those of y’all who will be reading along, and those of y’all that just occasionally stop by, will contemplate your own faith and understanding of God in a new, and more purposeful way.
Timothy Keller, in his book The Reason for God, describes our current culture as one in which both skeptics and believers feel their existence is being threatened by the other. Both secular skepticism and religious faith are, simultaneously, on the rise. We – as a culture – are growing both more religious and less religious at the same time with neither the western Christiandom of the past nor the religionless society that was expected to be our future.
And the chasm between these two camps is deep and seemingly treacherous.
But Keller has a fascinating – complex yet incredibly simple – proposition to bridge this divide. He encourages his readers to seriously consider our own doubts, and the doubts of others, in a new way. Keller says, “People who blithely go through life too busy or indifferent to ask hard questions about why they believe as they do will find themselves defenseless against either the experience of tragedy or the probing questions of a smart skeptic… Believers should acknowledge and wrestle with doubts – not only their own but their friends’ and neighbors’. It is no longer sufficient to hold beliefs just because you inherited them.”
Yes, believers should consider their beliefs and the reasons behind them. Additionally, skeptics should do the same. Some skeptics might bristle at this and renounce any system of ‘beliefs’ behind their skepticism, but Keller presses them to consider that their beliefs – their doubts of Christianity and belief in something else – is actually a type of faith. He says, “All doubts, however skeptical and cynical they may seem, are really a set of alternate beliefs. You cannot doubt Belief A except from a position of faith in Belief B…It would be inconsistent to require more justification for Christian belief than you do for your own, but that is frequently what happens.”
Believers are urged to face, head on, both their cultural and personal doubts to Christianity. Skeptics are urged to wrestle with the faith on which their belief – their skepticism – is based, and to consider how handily they could defend those beliefs to those who do not share them. And, at the end of the process, regardless of whether or not our beliefs change, we will hold onto our beliefs with a new-found clarity and humility, and an understanding and respect for the opposing side that we didn’t possess previously.
Question: Can you relate to what Keller says about the need for Christians to dissect their personal and cultural doubts? If so, what are your most pervasive doubts? If not, to what do you attribute your confidence?
My response: Absolutely. My knee-jerk reaction to the question of “do I doubt” is that I have a natural tendency toward belief – not doubt. But when I dig deeper, and really get honest with myself and how my actions reveal what I truly believe, I realize that I have doubted. And still, in some ways, doubt. And although those doubts have been long-hidden, they still color everything I do and everything I believe.
My most pervasive doubts have probably been about the character of God. Who is He? How can we know Him? How can He manage the universe and still have the time and the inclination to hear my often-seemingly-unimportant prayers? Does He really care about me?
Here is the button for the participants who will be linking up to the study. Grab the code, paste it into your Reason for God post and link up below.