I want to take a little digression from the list, if I may. I’d like to ask a question.
Do we have a right to question an All-Powerful Capital G-O-D God?
It’s interesting, I started this draft a couple days ago. I was involved in some good-natured debating with Christian friends on Facebook and the thought about the struggle it is for Christians who are bothered by doubts about the bible, God, Jesus, etc., to be open about those doubts, especially when they’re involved in ministry.
This post was supposed to simply be a mental exercise, a conversation without much context other than general observation.
In his book, Michael Licona, research professor of New Testament at Southern Evangelical Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina – oh, wait, make that “former” research professer, took exception to the account of the rising of many “saints” upon the death of Jesus Christ in Matthew 24. In his own words, “Based on my reading of the Greco-Roman, Jewish, and biblical literature, I proposed that the raised saints are best interpreted as Matthew’s use of an apocalyptic symbol communicating that the Son of God had just died.”
It seems Mikey had the gall, the audacity, to do some thinking on his own. Leading apologist Norman Geisler (the first apologist I went to when my doubts came to a head) condemned Liconia for “denying the full inerrancy of Scripture.” In a review on Amazon (it can be found on the front page of the above product link) Geisler said, “Finally, the same mistake seems to be occurring in your interpretation of this text as is made by many current liberal scholars in dehistoricizing other biblical texts, namely, using extra biblical sources as determinative for understanding a biblical text. So what if other Roman or Jewish legends are similar? The context of biblical text and other biblical texts are the best way to understand what a given passage is teaching.”
I think this is the PRIMARY problem with Christian apologists who claim to be objective thinkers. They bring their conclusion to the table then mold the facts to fit their conclusion. First, Geisler and his ilk are convinced that scripture is inerrant, then everything they read, and every explanation for every batty passage such as this one is shoved into the conclusion like too much dirty laundry into a suitcase on the last day of vacation.
When I was struggling with my own doubts I hid it from everybody, even my agnostic wife. I was the worship leader of our little church. I was respected. I *was* music to this little congregation. I read and prayed and thought and wrote and read some more, by myself, with nobody looking. I couldn’t hide it all from my wife, but she didn’t realize where my reading was headed, and of course she just loved me and supported me while I buried myself in books for days. She’s a good woman 🙂
Why did I hide it? Because I’m convinced that hopping over to church and announcing that I was struggling with myriad doubts, exploring Buddhist Meditation to deal with my anger, and reading a book by an atheist would have had the place in a tizzy. I would have been asked to step away from that thing I loved to do, well before I thought I’d be stepping away for good.
I don’t think most Christians deal well with doubts at all, and I think the model of churches and their requirements for service only promote hypocrisy and denial. While teaching that man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart, they look on the outward appearance and if there’s a smile and a wave, a confident conversation, a good, spirit-filled prayer, they assume everything’s okay. Leaders build up a reputation and they gain respect for their position in the church’s lay hierarchy. They don’t mean to be hypocritical, but once you build up this niche, it’s like a drug. You crave the approval, the station, the respect, and the activity itself.
So then when you go into a season of doubt, when you struggle to stay in the groove that got you there, you can’t show it. The first question will be whether you’re qualified to lead others. If you have doubts, how on earth are they going to keep you from leading others astray?
It’s completely incongruous with the concept that Christians are themselves simply sinners who have been saved, imperfect people in process who are going to fail, stumble, struggle, wonder, and doubt.
Now, you might be able to say you gossiped, or told a white lie, or forgot to leave a tip, but God forbid (oops) that you wonder if God’s even there, or if the bible is really inerrant, or Jesus really rose from the dead, or why God killed all those women and children, etc. You’ll be on the outs, before you’ve even come to a conclusion.
On the whole it’s not okay to doubt for a lot of Christians.
To my relief, that’s not universal. I had a friend PM me last night after seeing a couple Facebook exchanges between me and other Christians that were rather confrontational (though not unfriendly.) He said he was sorry everyone was being that way to me and just encouraged me to be thorough, investigate, and follow the truth wherever it leads.
Christian or no, that’s the right attitude.