Even the Holocaust is Open to Skeptical Manhandling

Openness is a form of vulnerability. Openness to question, openness to explore, openness to reach bold conclusions and overturn tradition: all the graybeard warnings about change are, to some extent, right. Openness and vulnerability are not necessarily good things, taken by themselves. In the Rialto Unified School District, somebody came up with a debate assignment on whether the Holocaust was real. Like as not, it was just a devil’s advocate argument taken in very, very poor taste. Nevertheless, it proves that even that today’s most ardent beliefs (hate, racism, and genocide are evil) are open to future questioning and skepticism. Though doubt is natural, openness to it is not uniformly virtuous, and can even be wicked. Continue reading Even the Holocaust is Open to Skeptical Manhandling

When Doubts Arise: Vulnerability, Transparency, and Correction

A commenter on one of Rachel Held Evan’s posts about her love for the Bible,  bemoaning the (apparent) legalism of a recent review of Ms. Evan’s new book, says, “it breaks my heart that the BiblioGod of ‘innerancy’ will not permit such transparent vulnerability as Rachel’s.” Going to the review, the author does not attack Ms. Evans personally: On the contrary, she remarks how she enjoyed her brief personal correspondence with Ms. Evans. What the author does is attempt to critique not only the book itself, but where the book and its message comes from;  the author then explains why she believes it is not only wrong, but harmful.  So the question is this: Does disagreement, even forceful disagreement, necessarily mean exploiting vulnerability? Continue reading When Doubts Arise: Vulnerability, Transparency, and Correction

Doubt, Belief, and Wonder: My Thoughts on God

Over at Eidos, my former professor and current friend John Mark Reynolds wrote a bit about the term ‘doubt.’ The word and concept hasn’t been far from my mind in the last few years, especially as I’ve pursued a degree in philosophy. Epistemology led me to an extended consideration of doubt and knowledge as such; likewise, a discussion of what it means to believe something in the face of evidence against it suggested some sort of switch one could flip to ‘stop believing.’ John Mark argues that we should not treat doubt as proof of the secularization of society. Continue reading Doubt, Belief, and Wonder: My Thoughts on God

Scholarship, Roman Catholics, Evangelicals, and the Use of Doubt

Before beginning, yes, that is an Oxford comma in the title. While some have done away with it, I find it still has merit. So sue me.

Today, a friend of mine brought this article to my attention. The title told me that I would likely disagree with the article. While I land decidedly not Roman Catholic (*cough Evangelical Outpost cough*), I instantly had a predisposition against what I was about to read. For starters, I am relatively certain that Roman Catholic scholarship is something that I am glad exists, even if I ultimately do not agree with a large portion of it. But aside from that, the definition of scholarship that the author takes strikes me as empty. For his definition, I find it best to quote rather than attempt to paraphrase: Continue reading Scholarship, Roman Catholics, Evangelicals, and the Use of Doubt

Plagued by Certainty

Although I don’t often write confessional posts, there is an issue that has been weighing on my heart. Certain discussions throughout the evangelical wing of the blogosphere have led me to finally speak up about an issue that I’ve tended to keep to myself. The problem concerns my faith: I am plagued by certainty.
It’s no secret that I have a high opinion of my own opinion; a confidence in their correctness that borders on the obnoxious. Like Ivan Turgenev, “I share no man’s opinions; I have my own.” But while I may embrace and defend my opinions with firmness, it is a humble form of certitude in which I have to acknowledge that there is a statistical likelihood — whether trivial or significant — that I could be wrong.
Not so, however, when it comes to matters of faith.
I don’t doubt that God exists or that the Bible is his Word. I don’t doubt that Jesus was born of a virgin, that he died and was buried, or that he rose again after three days in the tomb. I don’t doubt that he died for me, a truly wretched sinner, or that I will spend eternity in His presence. I would find it easier to doubt my own existence than to doubt the Nicene Creed. Maybe I’m delusional (though I doubt that) but I have few doubts about my faith.
My certitude is admittedly personal. I believe I have justification and warrant for my beliefs and that if pressed, I could attempt to provide proof and evidence for these claims. The level of “proof” I could give, though, would not provide the same level of certitude for you that I find sufficient for me. Proof is rather limited in that regard. I couldn’t prove that Joe Carter exists much less prove that he likes the color blue, that he kissed Christie Cozart in the 7th grade, or that he hates referring to himself in the third person.
While I can’t prove those things beyond a shadow of a doubt, I don’t doubt them at all. Similarly, my certainty in my faith isn’t based on what I can prove to other people or even, for that matter, what I can prove to myself.

Continue reading Plagued by Certainty