There is something about the very notion of doubt that raises the hackles of religious people. We have come to the conclusion that we are never supposed to have any doubts, about anything but especially, about what we believe. There are any number of problems with this idea not least of which is that it is impossible. I suppose I should temper that remark by saying that it is possible that someone has lived a doubt-free life but considering that every devotional writer and saint that I’m familiar with has talked or written about the doubts they have had makes it unlikely. The sermon title this Sunday was “Does everyone doubt?” which replaced “Everyone doubts. So what?” which in the end I thought was just a bit too “in your face.”
So what about doubt then? What do we do with it? The thing I was trying to accomplish this morning above all else was to get us to start thinking about doubt and then admitting that we have doubts. All of us. All of us have doubts. I didn’t get it into either sermon but one of the most common places that I have doubts about what I believe about God, the validity of Scripture, the power of prayer, the purpose of the church, and on and on is in the pulpit. I used to think I was crazy or something until I started looking for this experience in other preaching people’s words and found that this is not unknown. It seems that many of us are assailed with doubt when we step into the place where we are charged with presenting God’s message for and to God’s people. Where does that come from and what do we do with it?
First and foremost, we admit that we have doubts. Without that admission nothing else can happen. Denial is one of the worst strategies for, well, for anything. Second, we wait for doubt to resolve itself. This doesn’t always mean that we have answers to whatever questions we might have that have “caused” this doubt but it means we come to a place of resolution. Sometimes this means that we decide within ourselves that we are going to wait in faith until we get the answer that we need that will ultimately and completely resolve our question and our doubts. This isn’t easy but when the alternative is to throw out everything we believe I think it is the better option.
In conversation after one of the services someone mentioned to me that they might not like doubt itself but the existence of doubt means that we still have questions, we still have more to learn. I like that. We don’t have to pursue doubt but when it comes we don’t have to run away from it either.
Knox Presbyterian Does everyone doubt? (to download, right click and select “Save Link As . . .”)
St. Mark’s Presbyterian Does everyone doubt? (to download, right click and select “Save Link As . . .”)
James and Loreen Frost says
Thank you for that sermon Barry.
Barry Holtslander says
You are very welcome. I’m glad you heard it.