Doubt, Faith, & Freedom

Doubt, Faith, & Freedom

Gleanings from Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Sacrificing freedom in exchange for happiness is the devil’s bargain. God created us in God’s own image – with freedom to choose goodness freely, rather than with the base obedience of a robot. Free choice can only exist where there is doubt. Where there is certainty, there is nothing to choose. The QED of Euclidian geometry leaves no room for choice. 

Jesus offers no proofs; scripture offers no proofs. Scripture points to Jesus and Jesus guides us with his life, image, and teaching. We must choose goodness freely in the face of doubt. Choice made in the face of uncertainty, however, always leaves open the inevitability of making mistakes, which leads to guilt and regret. Desperate to avoid guilt and regret, many people choose to surrender their freedoms to totalitarian ideologies championed by demagogues who honorifically talk of “freedom” while redefining freedom in selfish and intolerant ways. When we flee guilt and regret, we fail to recognize that they are divine gifts of guidance. We confuse guilt with shame, which is long-lasting, deep-seated and toxic. Our need to be right supersedes and short-circuits our experience with divine love. 

Secularists erroneously define “faith” as blind belief in something some authority has told us. That might include such things as a religious narrative, the myth of a Christian nation, the myth of redemptive violence, the lie of white supremacy, a belief in an inevitable evolutionary utopia, racialized capitalism, or narrow-minded nationalism. For the Civil religionist who is immersed in the homogenization of the American myth retold in Christianeze, “faith” means acceptance of a nationalistic triumphalism coupled with an escapist eschatology that often results in a lifestyle diametrically opposed to the Sermon on the Mount.

True faith, however, is not blind belief in a religious or secular authority. Nor is faith the absence of doubt. Conversely, genuine Christian faith cannot exist without doubt. If a thing is absolutely certain, there is nothing to choose. That, however, does not mean that we cannot know anything. Clearly, both goodness and badness exist in our world. Torturing children is wrong. It is good to savor the beauty of a rose. True Christian faith begins when we choose to love life. 

For me, that process includes:

  1. A deconstruction and rebuilding of my theology, my philosophy of life, my religiophilosophical worldview. The jingoistic warrior god of vengeance is being replaced with the true and living God revealed in Christ, whose essence is perfect unconditional love.
  2. Discovering, embracing, and loving my inner child with the help of therapy and spiritual direction.
  3. Hanging around knowledgeable people who are helping me see the wondrous beauty of nature.
  4. Purposely looking for the imago Dei, the image of God, in others, and asking God to enable me to love others – all others. 
  5. Learning to be comfortable living in the liminal space of uncertainty, of not knowing with absolute assurance, of recognizing that I could be mistaken, being open and teachable.

With fresh inner freedom, seeing (as for the first time) the marvelous beauty of God, others, creation, and myself, I daily become increasingly convinced of the essential truth of Christianity and the presence of Trinitarian Love. Settling into Abba’s arms, I have peace and joy and no need of being right. 

About Dr. Larry Taylor

Radical Anabaptist, Jesus Freak, Red Letter Christian, sailor, thinker, spiritual director, life coach, pastor, teacher, chaplain, counselor, writer, husband, father, grandfather, dog-sitter

Posted on August 7, 2020, in anabaptist, apologetics, Bible, Bible Teaching, Christianity, creation, Jesus, Justice, Kingdom Life, kingdom of God, parables, Peace Shalom Hesed, Spirituality, Theodicy, Worship. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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