I do not doubt the fundamentals of Christianity, but I do doubt my ability to grasp them fully.

I read recently that Christian blogs are more interesting when the author is in the stage of faith when they are doubting and questioning – in the way that music and literature is more interesting when written by a tortured soul.

The irony for me is that when I began this blog I was in the grip of a mindset of absolute certainty. This certainty encompassed not only that which I believed, but also that what I believed was absolute truth.

I reflect back on this with some embarrassment, as now many of those beliefs have shifted or changed completely.

Don’t get me wrong, I still hold to the central dogmas of Christianity, as I did back then; however, the assuredness of my ability to fully grasp those dogmas has diminished.

I note with interest that fundamentalist Christians along with fundamentalist atheists appear to exhibit absolutely no doubt. They are cast iron sure. And yet they can’t both be right. And so certainty can be a slippery gauge indeed.

I had certainty at the very time when I should not have. For example, I was certain that private revelation and interpretation of Scripture was the way to truth, and the majority of the Church was in error.

So, at the very time that I sundered myself from the traditions and teaching of the  accumulated body of knowledge revealed to the Church over two millennia, was the very time that I held the utmost certainty in my beliefs.

Being my own Pope and Magisterium led me to the insanity of believing in myself.

Nowadays I do have doubts and frequently wrestle with certain teachings of the Church, but I will always now fall upon her as the authority.

I have cast aside the bondage of certainty and am freed to truly explore my faith.

And in doing so I discovered something already discovered. Christianity.

And now I don’t have all the answers and perhaps that’s why I continue blogging.

Vic the Vicar made this comment in response to an email asking: ‘Why don’t you do more theology like the other blogs?’

The second question regarding theology is an interesting one as I think that there is a great deal of theology in what is to be found in this place. What I think the question is asking is, “Why don’t you use theologyspeak?” The answer is that as one who seeks to be a theologian my task is to make the difficult concepts and issues that occur in Christian living understandable and to encourage those who stumble upon the simple concepts to make them everyday occurences. One of the courses of study I undertook challenged us to write about theological issues without the theological shorthand (eschatalogical, soterological, theodicy and the like).

I agree with this. There are many bloggers who specialise in theology and I’m sure they are amazing, but very often I find them boring and dry and rather akin to straining a gnat.

I’m glad I’m not a scholar in theology or philosophy or anything really. It frees me to chart my progress – or otherwise – using everyday language.

As Dr Jim West so rightly says: Everything is for the theological grist.

I often get it wrong, but you know what, that’s OK, as I’m not a teacher but a pilgrim on my journey…..

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8 Responses to “I do not doubt the fundamentals of Christianity, but I do doubt my ability to grasp them fully.”

  1. Quote of the Day: Stuart James | Unsettled Christianity Says:

    [...] via I do not doubt the fundamentals of Christianity, but I do doubt my ability to grasp them fully. | eC…. [...]

  2. Hausdorff Says:

    Great post. I think having these discussions helps us all refine our thoughts and ideas and we are all better off for it.

    I myself am an atheist and used to be of the type that you would probably call fundamentalist (I’m not really sure what a fundamentalist atheist is, but I did think I was 100% certain and I was kind of a jerk about it). Don’t get me wrong, I still feel very certain of my beliefs, but I do know that there are things I don’t understand and I am always willing to be wrong if I come across something new.

    Mostly I’m really interested in the way people think, I like that we come from opposite sides of this issue, and yet what you expressed here is very similar to something I might say about my take on it.

  3. Gillan Scott Says:

    Doubt is something that all believers should be able to embrace and be at ease with. I don’t doubt the fundamentals of Christianity. I rarely have crisies of faith, but I do have days when I think how crazy life is. How crazy is it that there is a God who is above everything and how crazy is it that he created the world the way it is and that he has any interest in me?

    I have this comfortable relationship with God where I regularly question Him about why things are the way they are. Most of the time I don’t get any obvious answers, but sometimes I do. I don’t think God has a problem with me throwing things at Him. He understands what it’s like from our point of view and I think He is more able to meet with us and teach us when we are vulnerable than when we think we have all the answers and know best. I seem to remember the pharisees thought along those lines and Jesus wasn’t too happy with them.

  4. Chip Says:

    We’ll never fully grasp the truth till we see it face to face and, even then, only to the extent that our itty-bitty human natures will allow… that will be overwhelming and completely satisfying at the same time. That’s what I truly believe.

  5. david Says:

    Dear friends,
    re “I note with interest that fundamentalist Christians along with fundamentalist atheists appear to exhibit absolutely no doubt. They are cast iron sure. And yet they can’t both be right. And so certainty can be a slippery gauge indeed.” – but doesn’t this also apply to Catholics, who are convinced that the true church is the Roman Catholic church and that their sacraments are authentic, correct and necessary? Cast iron sure Catholics, whose security is in their church rather than Christ?

    re “So, at the very time that I sundered myself from the traditions and teaching of the accumulated body of knowledge revealed to the Church over two millennia, was the very time that I held the utmost certainty in my beliefs” – but what if the “accumulated body of ‘knowledge’ was not ‘revealed to the church over two millenia’, but rather the accumulation of theological dogmas built upon St Augustines writings?…and what if St Augustine was mistaken on some major issues?

    re “frequently wrestle with certain teachings of the Church, but I will always now fall upon her as the authority” – why do you assume that the “church” (by which I assume you to mean the Roman Catholic Church), is right on these issues? It has been very wrong in the past on many issues! Should a Mormon rest on the authority of their church on interpretation of scripture and assume that because the church ‘says so’ it must be the ‘final authority’? …or might just such an interpetaton be not only wrong but heresy? What makes the Catholic church any different in this respect, or its adherents any less susceptible to being misled by doctrines and teachings of men?

    The early Christians were Jews. They were never part of the Roman Catholic Church, even if the church by this name has sought to ‘adopt them’, they remained Jews. Since the apostle James for instance was never part of the Roman Catholic Church, what was his ‘final authority’ for intrepetation of scripture?

    The early church were fundamentalists and radical Jews. They were sure, “cast iron” sure of what they believed, even to die for it, so were they also on a “slippery guage indeed”? It is through these radicals that we have the New Testament and we owe it to these fundamentalists for the inspiration of and obedience to the Holy Spirit as they were guided in both their witness and their writings that they have left us. They were truly Fundamental in their beliefs and Radical in their practices.

    Without fundamentalists, there would be no New Testament.
    Are we becoming so ashamed of standing up passionately for Christ and being known as a Fundamentalist, that we are retreating into the sophistications and institutions of man to hide in?

    Are we now ashamed to be Fundamentalists? Christ wasn’t ashamed of it and neither were the disciples.

    re “I have cast aside the bondage of certainty and am freed to truly explore my faith” – could it be that rather, you have ‘cast aside the humility of receiving in faith from Christ and instead, put yourself in bondage to the dogmatic teachings and traditions of men’ (something Christ was very critical of)?

    Could it not be that you have replaced the solid Word of God as sola scriptura, with the teachings of men of the last 2000 yrs? Might it not be that you have replaced the Body of Christ and spiritual church with an earthly denomination and institution of men?

    Is Christ coming for an institution of men or a just the Wheat sown everywhere among the Tares? (Two men will be in a field, the one shall be taken, the other left)

    Could the established church be in fundamental doctrinal error? Was Christ not correct when He said Broad is the way that leads to destruction and many there be that go into it ?

    No church or individual should rely upon the church, its doctrines, traditions or teachings to be the final authority for the interpretation of scripture. The only ‘final authority’ as to the interpretation of any writing is the author of that writing.

    If being a Fundamentalist means being like Christ and the disciples, standing up for Christ, proclaiming the gospel and ‘not being ashamed of the Cross of Christ’, then let us all be Fundamentalists and not be ashamed of it.

    As Christ said “If anyone is ashamed of me and MY words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.” – Luke 9:26

  6. Adiutricem Says:

    Well done, sir. Certainty can be a mask that one uses to avoid looking too closely at one’s own faith. It needs to be set down now and then so that one can be exposed to the light of Christ. I am finding myself along the same journey, so I feel like I can relate to what you are saying. Thanks for posting this.

  7. Digitalnun Says:

    I agree! It is entirely possible to believe and yet still have to struggle with difficulties, otherwise faith would be a bit of a cop-out. The more one learns, the more there is to learn; and understanding always lags behind both. Thank you.

  8. Grasping at Dogma is Not Grasping at Straws Says:

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