Moving from Doubt to Faith: Part 1
We divided our “Faith for Doubters” into two broad topics: “Faith Builders” and “Faith Barriers.” As we move on from builders to barriers, here are some of the builders we talked about:
We can move from doubt to faith by:
1) Understanding there is a place for doubters. Belief rarely runs in the 100% category for any of us. We learned through the story of Thomas that Jesus gives a place for someone who struggles with doubt. Thomas had followed Jesus, knew him, saw him do miracles and personally knew all of the immediate followers who were trying to convince him they had seen the resurrected Christ and still doubted. Jesus said, “blessed are those who do NOT see and yet believe.” 2000 years later, having none of Thomas’ advantages, how blessed are all of us who don’t see and yet believe?
2) Correctly defining biblical faith. There are lots of misunderstandings about the nature of faith. Many define it as “believing the unbelievable”. If I am going to move from doubt to faith I need to understand what faith actually IS. We saw that the church has historically summed up the Bible’s teaching in 3 basic concepts expressed in latin words: 1)Notia – faith as knowledge. Faith is about believing in something. It has content. 2) Assensus — faith as agreement. As we come to terms with the content of faith we have to ask ourselves a very important questions: “do I agree the content is true?” 3)Fiducia – faith as commitment. Biblical faith is never a purely intellectual exercise. True faith calls for commitment. If I truly believe and agree in the content of what the bible presents me, I will commit my life to it.
3) Keeping the main thing the main thing. 1 Corinthians 1:3 – 8 contains what the vast majority of scholars believe is the earliest statement of belief of the Christian church. This gives great insight into what really matters and what we are being called on to know, agree to and trust in. This helps to navigate through misconceptions about what Christianity is.
4) Knowing facts about Jesus and the early church that virtually ALL scholars agree on regardless of their personal beliefs. Historical research and in-depth biblical studies at the highest levels of scholarship can help us sort through some of the noise and bad information that can stand in the way of our trust in what the Bible tells us about Jesus and the earliest believers. Ideas that are considered virtual historical certainties are:
a) Jesus really lived and saw himself as a Messianic figure.
b) Jesus was perceived to be a miracle worker and exorcist by his contemporaries.
“The miracle stories are now treated seriously and are widely accepted by Jesus scholars as deriving from Jesus’ ministry” –A Evans
c) Jesus died by crucifixion.
“there is not the slightest doubt about the fact of Jesus’ crucifixion under Pontius Pilate. That he was crucified is as sure as anything historical can ever be” — John Dominic Crossan
d) Very shortly after Jesus’ death, the disciples had experiences that led them to believe and proclaim that Jesus had been resurrected.
“the disciples’ conviction that they had seen the Risen Christ … [is part of] historical bedrock, facts known past doubting.” – Paula Frederickson, Boston University.