Faith and Doubt
I have a lot of time for the writer Timothy Keller, and recently he has pointed to one of the major paradoxes of our day when he says,
“We live in an age when both belief and scepticism are on the rise.”
It’s true. Our generation is more open to exploring the ‘spiritual’ side of life than the generation before us, while at the same time we are not slow in asking questions and voicing doubts, particularly when it comes to Christianity.
And rightly so! Even when we set to one side the crude belligerence of the so called ‘New Atheists’, championed by the likes of Richard Dawkins, there are times when even the most devout believer has had to face up to serious questions about their faith. For example…
- Is it not arrogance to believe that Jesus is the only way to the Father?
- How can we believe in a good God, when he allows so much suffering?
- How can we claim that our faith sets us free – is it not more likely the opposite?
- How can we say we follow the ‘Prince of Peace’, when religion seems to cause so many wars?
- How can we say ‘God is love’ and still believe in Hell?
- How can we still believe in God in the face of the rise of science?
- How can we use the Bible as our guide, when it seems to be full of contradictions?
One of the signs of a growing faith is that it is not afraid of scepticism. Doubt is not a bad thing. It forces us to go focus on why we believe something, and why it is important to us. It forces us to keep an open mind, and not get too set in our ways. It keeps us on our toes and keeps our faith alive.
In his first letter to the church at Corinth, Paul likens the Christians there to infants, still having to make do with milk, when by now they should have progressed to more solid foods. In the coming weeks, we plan to offer a menu of such solid foods at our SIX30 service on Sunday evenings in the Kirkgate Cafe. Over the course of seven weeks we will be giving a series of talks based on some of the major questions that cause us to doubt. A small team of speakers will take it in turn to do this, drawing on material from Timothy Keller’s book, ‘The Reason for God’, and there will be plenty of time for reflection and discussion.
The Kirkgate Café is exactly that – a café, which means tea and coffee will be available throughout. You can aim for 6.30pm, or you can come early. Everyone is welcome. The series begins on Sunday 20th September. Hope to see you soon.