In my last seminar at the Carriage House Inn, Calgary Alberta , I spoke on The Mystery of Faith and the value of doubt and unbelief. Lets try expand our view of these subjects.
Somehow our society, especially religious society, views belief as good and doubt as bad. “Have no doubt, just believe.” We will not try and upend this basic understanding, however, a little closer look is warranted.
Seems the planet is full of “belief bullies” and “doubt bullies”.
“You must believe!”,
“I very much doubt that!”
And if one disagrees with either?
Well, there is hell to pay!
Is belief always a virtue? Yes, believing is a virtue. However in many cases where belief has been applied, doubt would have served you better. A few “in-the-news” examples:
A man whom a family in California had no doubt about at all but believed him to be a trusted friend, tortured and killed the Mother and her 8 year old son. Then he kidnapped the 16 year old daughter. Just a moment’s doubt could have saved this entire family!
Then there is the story of the girls who were kidnapped and held in Cleveland Ohio . At least one of the girls knew Castro as a trusted family member. Doubt, on any one’s part in the family could have caused this 10-year nightmare to have not occurred.
In religious history, remember Jim Jones, the Guiana compound and Kool-Aid? Where is that little bit of doubt when it is so desperately needed?
Belief – always a virtue?
The virtues of doubt? Where would we be without those damnable doubters of this world?
The earth is flat! – “I doubt that.”
Man was not made to fly! – “I doubt that.”
The atom is the smallest particle! – “I doubt that.”
One could almost say that doubt and unbelief have been this planet’s greatest blessings, while faith and belief are its most devastating curse – but, not exactly.
Belief or doubt can only be applied to what is already determined. I can doubt truth, it does not change truth. I can believe truth, it does not change truth.
Faith and belief can change one’s life, to the positive or to the negative.
Doubt and unbelief can change one’s life, to the positive or to the negative.
However, neither can change the facts nor the truth. Belief can do nothing but believe. Doubt can do nothing but doubt. Neither have an iota of influence as to what the truth is.
President John Adams once said, “Facts are stubborn things.” Well truth, like facts, is a stubborn thing. Truth is not moved by my belief or by my unbelief.
In the book of John, Jesus himself laid out belief as an imperative. Much like Moses laid out the law and its imperative. The conclusion of Moses’ imperative is clear. “There is none righteous, no not one.” By John chapter 12 we see the conclusion of Jesus’ imperative to belief. None did.
Moses law concluded what was already true before the law was given. All were sinners by one mans deed. Jesus teaching concluded what was already true. There is none that believe, no not one.
Once the law concluded its work and Jesus concluded his teaching, the entire world lay waste before God, bare and exposed. No more excuses!
Then it happened! The cross went up in the air. The loins of Christ, the last Adam, opened and received all that came from the loins of the first Adam. All sinners, all disobedient, all unbelieving, without hope and without God in this world.
Tucked safely in the cleft of the rock, under the shadow of the Almighty, wrath for all sin and all unbelief rained down on the cross.
In that one died, all died.
In that one was raised, all were raised.
Yes, raised a new creation! This time NOT in God’s image as the first time around, subject to corruption. This time as God’s own righteousness in the earth.
While Paul taught clearly how all were crucified with Christ, all died in Christ, all were buried in Christ, all were raised in Christ. With all this detail there is not a single mention of even one making it back out of Christ! You see, like Paul we are all prisoners of Christ. Captivity lead captive! ARRESTED! And placed in Christ for judgment.
And I quote:
“For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance. For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief: Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy. For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.
O the depths of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and his ways past finding out! For who hath know the mind of the Lord? Or who hath been his counselor? Or hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: To whom be glory for ever. Amen.”
Believe it or not!