How do we frame our doubts? Faith Seeking Understanding

(SeanO) #1

So much of the way we process events in our lives has to do with the way that we tell our own story - the narrative we give to our lives. As Christians, how do we frame our doubts and questions? How do we make sense of them within our personal narrative?

I think one helpful way is to frame our doubts and questions as faith seeking understanding. We know Christ - we have encountered the living God - and now we are on a journey to know Him more. If we approach our doubts with this narrative, then they do not shake our faith. Instead, they are part of our faith journey and ultimately lead to a deeper knowledge of God.

How have you made sense of doubts within your faith journey? How do you frame your doubts? Do you think that portraying our journey as faith seeking understanding is helpful in how we portray the Christian walk to unbelievers?

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts and stories.

Fides Quaerens Intellectum - Faith Seeking Understanding

“I do not seek to understand in order that I may believe, but rather, I believe in order that I may understand” - Anselm of Canterbury

(Olivia Davis) #2

I love this question. It always helps me to think about my questions within a larger narrative when I encounter them, and it gives me compassion for other people asking questions because I realize that everyone’s questions are situated within a narrative of his or her life.

I do think that calling our search for answers as “faith seeking understanding” is helpful for unbelievers. It shows that our faith is dynamic, growing as we learn and see more of God’s love and goodness to us. It shows that faith isn’t something stamped on us by our parents, our environment, or peers, but instead, something that we wrestle with daily as we walk with God. It shows that we don’t have to understand everything to have faith, but that we take it seriously enough that we want to challenge it (and, also, are self-aware enough to challenge it!).

When I was a freshman in college, I had a professor who deeply challenged what I believed about God. I was a little nervous as I began to read Bertrand Russell’s Religion and Science, among other required texts. I felt a tinge of fear that the God I loved would turn out to be something I’d conjured up. So I wrote something scary in an essay to my professor: If I’m wrong, and God isn’t real, I haven’t lost anything but an illusion in the first place (what was my god). If my Christian beliefs aren’t true, I want to know. I began to investigate my doubts, accepting that the only way to get over my fear would be to face it. As I studied, I saw that Christianity makes sense and follows logic and, it seems, is the very bedrock of questions that people sometimes pose to disprove it (e.g. anything on the problem of evil). Eventually, the pattern – whatever my question, God was far ahead of me in answering it – became so evident to me that I stopped worrying so much about answers to my questions and more about knowing my God.

Even now, when I have questions and doubts, I try to go back to my original motive for all my questions, which is that, If this isn’t true, I want to know. This helps me have the courage to reckon with doubts. However, after several years of searching for answers, I’ve realized that God and truth are synonymous. He is truth. When I have questions that I can’t answer easily, or at all, I’ve realized that I can always go back to the ultimate truth, which is that God loves me infinitely more than I’ll ever understand and that he’s with me in every moment of suffering, joy, and all of the ordinary days in between.

So, today, I like to think of my questions as moments for me to understand more about God. I remember that for as many doubts I have, I have examples of God being overly and abundantly faithful to me. Thus, in the same way, that my doubts made me realize to a far greater extent his faithfulness to me as a freshman, I like to see today’s doubts as opportunities for God to show me more of himself and his ways.

(SeanO) #3

@Olivia_Davis Thank you for sharing that testimony. It is a perfect example of how our faith matures as we grow in our faith and how maturity in our walk with Christ changes how we handle doubt. When you first began to ask the hard questions, if I understand correctly, there was a much bigger question mark - the possibility it was all wrong. But now that you have seen God’s faithfulness in your life over the course of years and repeatedly found His truth to be ahead of the questions being asked, you process your doubts more as an opportunity to once again see the beauty of God’s truth and evidence of His steadfast love in your life.

For me, I think one of the most wonderful parts of how I interpret ‘faith seeking understanding’ is that we can have unanswered questions that we are seeking answers to our whole lives and yet still walk with Christ. It does not give us the sense that we must find the answer - we have Christ and we know Him. And yet it also gives us confidence that there is an answers and encourages us to enjoy seeking out a deeper knowledge of God.

(Olivia Davis) #4

Yes, that’s a perfect summary.
I, too, enjoy the freedom I now have when it comes to unanswered questions! It’s ok if I don’t know, because I already know who God is! I think this helps me be more level-headed when other people challenge my faith, too, because I don’t have to feel threatened.