My generation talks a lot about doubt. It seems hip and cool to be indifferent to everything and everyone. We shrug off people and plans as quickly as we shove off old technology or dated politics. We’re a generation of Thomases, doubting at every turn.
I am a doubter in every sense of the word. Even close friends doubt that about me though. “You’re so strong!” “You’re so loving!” “You know the Word!” With every exclamation I hide the truth even more deeply within me: I am so full of doubt I stumble on unbelief around every corner.
A few weeks ago someone tweeted, “In the Bible, doubt is always rebuked. In the post-evangelical culture, it is given a publishing platform.” He received a good amount of pushback, though; I wasn’t surprised.
Our questions are not sinful; men and women of God throughout Scripture voiced questions to God, and he, like a good Father, invites our questions because he is the source and sole answer. Following questions through will always lead us to the cross. However, a stagnant faith leads to the same old wells that eventually dry up because they are not the Living Water.
Increasingly, doubt and doubters are given platforms in church culture, and I see some good reason for it: arrogant certainty in rules and principles has led into a legalism of culture and spirit. The only answer for many dechurched or post-evangelicals is to circle their doubt like the drain in a bathtub. The problem with it, though, is the only place it leads is down.
Curiosity and the Cat
Doubt wrecked me a few years ago because, as the old adage goes, curiosity killed the cat. Gratefully, this cat has two lives, but resurrection was not found in answers to my questions. Some of those questions still arrest my soul. I stumble on theologies the rest of the modern church either won’t budge on or has completely dismissed. The rebirth of my life was found in many small things, one of which was a wall in the children’s ministry room at my church.
I was taking a class that met in there once a week, nothing to do with children or ministry. I don’t remember a lot of what was said from the front of the room. I do remember the foam-boards placed in succession on one wall, though.
All of the boards list an attribute of God and how he displays it. Four of those boards say these words:
Wise: God knows what is best.
Generous: God gives what is best.
Loving: God does what is best.
Good: God is what is best.
The answer to doubt is God. The answer to our questions about tithing, membership, gender roles, politics, sin, and any other aspect in life that gives us pause is God. The blight of our generation is that we believe we are god.
In Purgatorio, from Dante’s Divine Comedy, it is said the root of every sin is a disordered love. We are the most disordered, ill-prioritized generation yet—it should be no surprise that we laud doubt, loathe decision, and critique certainty. We can’t abide anyone who knows what is best, gives what is best, does what is best, and is what is best because it illumines the reality that we are not best. Meditating on those attributes of God for 16 weeks put my doubts almost completely to rest.
I still wrestle with whether what God is doing feels best, but I do not wrestle with whether it is best. My constant prayer for my own doubt-prone heart and my generation is that our loves would be upset, turned upside down, that we would know, give, do, and be what is best in God’s eyes: his children serving others in grateful worship to our great God knowing he is only what is best.