Recently, I've been doing some writing about the way we think about and use scripture. Some of that you will see here soon. And while I've been thinking about that, a bigger question - about the way we think about a lot of stuff - has been going through my mind.
WHY ARE WE AFRAID TO THINK?
There is a little back story here. Several years ago, I was confronted by an angry dad who was upset because a book I was using for a class included some ideas that he found offensive. Well, he hadn't read the book, but it was on a list that he had seen of "dangerous" authors who were perverting the minds of Christians. The list included folks like Richard Foster, Henri Nouwen, Brennan Manning - real dangerous dudes. As we talked, well, as he yelled, I realized that this dad was afraid. He was afraid that we were teaching his daughter a different kind of Christianity. When I could get a word in, I asked him why he had sent his daughter to a Christian liberal arts college if he did not want her to learn how to think. I have never forgotten his answer:
"I don't want her to think. I want her to know!"
Wow! I had never thought of it that way before.
I think that we are afraid to think because we are afraid to doubt. We think that doubt will kill our relationship with Jesus. However, doubt is the beginning of faith, not the end.
Remember several years ago, when some letters written by Mother Teresa were released. In some of them, she expressed her doubts. Some folks were upset, thinking in some way this took away from her amazing life of faith and witness. Not to me. To me, reading those letters, I felt closer to Mother Teresa, and she became more real, more human - and more a person of real faith.
You know, there are certain sins that are best dealt with by staying as far away as possible. Just don’t go near them. Don’t allow yourself the temptation. However, the sin of a bad idea is not the kind of sin you should avoid. The best way to deal with a bad idea is to think about it, examine it, talk about it. That’s why I’ve never understood folks who are afraid to read certain books, have certain conversations, and think about certain ideas. They are afraid that they will begin to doubt - that somehow, the only way God can rule in their life is if absolute certainty is maintained. But I think God is bigger than that. God is not afraid of my doubts, because God knows that when I leave the certainty of my box of answers, and let my doubts see the light of day, there is freedom, and that’s where faith lives.
I do think this has something very important to say to us about what we do with scripture, and I’ll write more on that later. But what do you think? I’d love to know. Let’s talk. Share your comments.
*** Thanks to Rachel Evans for helping me to think about some of this stuff. If you are not already a reader of Rachel’s blog, check her out at www.rachelheldevans.com