Wondering about my faith  

Posted by Denis Haack in , ,

Sometimes I wonder about my faith. Not in the sense of having doubts about whether Christianity is true—I settled that years ago after doubting so deeply that for a time I wondered if I would remain a Christian. Don’t get me wrong. Questions still arise that I have no answer for, but I’ve learned that my not having an answer doesn’t mean that there isn’t one, so such moments aren’t upsetting. I just say I don’t know, and begin to think it through.


My wondering about my faith comes, instead, on the relational side of things. Believing in Jesus is not simply an intellectual affair. The Christian faith does not consist of merely agreeing that a set of propositions about Jesus and life and death are true. Instead, the Scriptures reveal Christ as a living person, a resurrected Lord, a God-man fully present in his creation bringing all things to their appointed end. We believe a set of propositions (like the ones that make up the Apostles’ Creed) because we are convinced of Jesus. And being convinced of Jesus means being convinced about a person, about someone present in our life. It’s a relationship.


“The Divine Lover,” John Stott writes in Authentic Christianity (p. 301) “still sorrows when his love is unrequited, and pines for our continuing, deepening, maturing adoration. Love, then, is the first mark of a true and living church. Indeed, it is not a living church at all unless it is a loving church. The Christian life is essentially a love-relationship to Jesus Christ. ‘Jesus captured me,’ wrote Wilson Carlile, founder and ‘chief’ of the Church Army. ‘For me to know Jesus is a love affair.’”


This is the part I sometimes wonder about. How do I nourish this, be certain of it, enjoy it, and deepen it? What does it feel like, and when feeling are muddled what does that mean? Do I love him, really, or am I in love with The Story that is so profoundly satisfying, speaking to every part of life and reality? Or are these the same thing?


I suppose the cynical response would be to say, well, that’s a Presbyterian for you. But I’ve looked into the more mystical and more emotional and more demonstrable parts of the church, and though I’ve learned from them I find them wanting. And being Reformed is not the problem, as anyone who reads Stott, or The Valley of Vision will see.


So, my wondering continues.


This entry was posted at Saturday, August 01, 2009 and is filed under , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

2 comments

Denis,
Thanks for your thoughts on this. "Do I really love/know/relate to Jesus?" I keep continualy come back to this question. I recently starting preaching through 1 John which has driven this question back to the center of my consciousness once again because it's one of the main concerns of the book.

John goes to great lengths to assure his readers of the reality of Jesus, in the sense of fact not just a value. I relate to Jesus through faith but my faith rests in the fact that he is real apart from my faith, and not simply believed in like someone might believe in Santa Clause.

I wrestle with this because it's so easy to simply think of Jesus as a mythical figure whom I appreciate and even call my Lord, but to whom I have as much a living relationship with as Caesar or Zeus. Of course as soon as I think these things (or type them as the case may be) there's a part of me that rises up and says, "No, imperfect as it may be you do have a real relationship with God in Christ. You do know and believe that Jesus is more real than even yourself." And so I often live torn between what I know and what I feel, and even those two things tend to switch place.

The comforting thing to me is that the biblical authors seem to anticipate these types struggle for people who won't know Jesus in the flesh until he consummates his kingdom. Jesus himself told James that though he believed because he saw, those would be more blessed who believe without seeing. Is this not an implicit recognition that faith in the risen Savior is more difficult for those of us who are thousands of years removed from his earthly ministry?

I could go on, but I've already written an overly long comment. Just wanted you to know that I appreciate your honesty and openness about this struggle. It's far more common than most Evangelicals want to admit.

Love ya brother.

August 1, 2009 at 11:31 PM

Amen, brother!

I have lots of personal baggage to add to your questions. I grew up in a tradition that sold the gospel in rather glowing relational terms. I embraced it on those terms and was somewhat satisfied until I realized that what I had seen as "relationship" was only emotion produced in me by a manipulative style of worship. Of course seeing it meant that it didn't work anymore. This realization was followed by some very dry, overly-intellectual years.

One bright spot this journey: Richard Winter's "Knowing the Invisible, Inaudible, Untouchable God" (published in Critique!). I still find wisdom and encouragement in it.

August 20, 2009 at 11:28 AM

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