Self-Evident Truths

There are days when I wished I wrote an anonymous blog. There are many days like that. Maybe I’ll start another blog for days like this. I’m going for transparency, though, because I think that’s me and that’s what readers are looking for, and it’s difficult to be transparent behind the veil of anonymity. I like to write about what I know, but today, I feel like I need to write about what I don’t know.  Let’s start with knowing. James Lovelock said, “I’m a scientist, not a theologian. I don’t know if there’s a God or not. Religion requires certainty.”

Photo by Paul Jackson

It does seem that way, doesn’t it? Those outside of religion look at us and deride us for our assurance in every detail of belief.  It happens to those of us on the inside, too, though. I hate it when people are so cocky, so sure of themselves, of everything, in fact, that they cannot admit the possibility of their own error. I tilt my head to the side and furrow my brow at those people who are so terribly SURE of themselves, so certain that their opinions are the only correct opinions, so determined to make everyone else feel the rightness of the truths they hold to be self-evident. I’ve been besieged by my own doubts, lately, about my abilities in the classroom and even in my own living room. Those doubts make me loathe the self-confident surety of those smug people who seem to have it all together.

We feel the need to press our firmness of conviction on others, so that we feel justified in that surety. That bespeaks doubt. If we were so blasted certain, wouldn’t we be certain whether or not anyone else agreed? I know when I have felt the most certain in the past was usually when I was surrounded by other people with their “yesses” and “amens.” I feel certain when I get comments on a blog post that all agree with me and my perspective. I feel certain when it seems the popular consumption of what I write seems “up.” Truth is, though, I feed off those comments because of my doubts. I seek human approval because I doubt Godly approval. I, too often, see that success as evidence that God has blessed me, but then, I wonder…

Why do I write? Do I set ideas to internet to exorcise my internal questions that dog my thoughts? Do I type out posts to set my ideas straight, or to create a forum for my self-evident truths? Doubts crowd in and I scan the Scriptures for a cure. Luke wrote to Theophilus in Luke 1:3-4: “It seemed good to my also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus, that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed.” Doh. That doesn’t help. It seems as if Luke was one of those perpetually certain people. What about those of us who doubt?

Luke 24:38-41 “And he said to them, ‘Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts? Behold My hands and My feet that it is I myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have,’ When He had said this, He showed them his hands and his feet. But while they still did not believe him for joy, and marveled…” Luke is acknowledging that the disciples doubted for joy… it was just too good to be true. Grace is too much to be believed. We cannot be SURE of what does not make sense. As I posted the other day, Grace is a mystery.

I read this post by Rachel Held Evans the other day, and it struck me, on a deep level. She asks, Did Anne Frank go to hell? She writes: But I’m finally beginning to believe that the thing inside of me that compels me to ask uncomfortable questions like this one is worth listening to now and then, that maybe it’s not a weakness but a strength. I don’t know how grace works, but I have faith that it works as God intended, to cover our sins. I don’t know why I sometimes doubt, but I’m beginning to think my doubts have a purpose: self-reflection.

This, I realize is a disjointed piece of inquiry. I don’t know. There, I said it. I don’t know what I meant to say, or that I said it to anyone’s benefit except my own. That’s another reason I wish I wrote an anonymous blog, so that my insane ramblings could be hidden behind a mask, but I doubt that would bring me any clarity; that much is self-evident.

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8 responses to “Self-Evident Truths

  1. Im glad you write, and am glad you are transparent.

  2. I believe you doubt because you want to believe. Doubt with the right motives is a catalyst for powerful assurance. Some people doubt because they are lazy. Others doubt because they genuinely want to believe.

    There great paradox is that we can have much assurance in Christ and yet it is all through faith. It makes absolutely no sense. And I’m okay with that.

    When I was a child, I didn’t understand everything my parents did for me but I was always secure in their arms.

    • you’re right. I dont doubt God. I doubt me. It’s like Peter on the sea. He starts walking out to Jesus and then loses faith. It’s not his faith in Jesus that’s faltering — he cries out for Jesus to save him. He believed in Jesus’ power to save; he doubted his own ability to follow. I’m Peter, today, calling out for salvation because I dont think I have the ability.

      Thanks for the encouragement.

  3. I have been feeling the exact same way lately; even before I read Rachel’s blog (which was like, whoa). Over the last few months I have been wrestling with doubt and questions. Never do I doubt God, but I doubt my understanding of what He has given us. I doubt myself and my ability to do what He needs me to do. How do I make sense of all of it? I am grateful that I am confronting these things now and not 3 years ago or else my faith and relationship with God might not have been strong enough to withstand it. I feel like this place of questioning and doubt is a great place to be because it is just like a marriage (even though I’m not married)…when the honeymoon is over, you don’t see your husband as much as you used to, and you don’t feel like you are being heard or loved the way you were before. Do you stay, or do you go when things shift? I feel like even when I feel that God is silent, the Bible is confusing and vague, and I don’t “feel” His presence like I used to….I have to decide whether I love and believe enough in Him to stay….and I decide that yes I can. We’re not alone in our doubt…check out this blog: http://www.bigmama247.com/2010/11/all-i-need.html

  4. Thanks for linking me to Alise’s blog. I had read it weeks ago and forgot to bookmark. I think your illustration is a great one. Thank you!

  5. I’ve recently come to think two things that are at least a little related to this post. One is the value of the old proverb “A gentle answer turns away wrath.” This would be a major change for me…but I think a very good one. I think maybe most of the hard core advocates for their own certainty struggle with that one. Like a personality disorder.

    I’ve also recently come to believe that behind the hard, ugly presentation of personal certainty is a heart that really truly cares about people who are going to be harmed by persisting in their wrongness. It doesn’t make the presentation easier to swallow, but for me it makes their zeal easier to sympathize with.

    Thank you for your transparency. I love the way that your logic is paired with a deep knowledge of scripture and that with those tools you lead me to conclusions I would not have come to on my own. It is great to be challenged.

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