Doubt, Faith, and the Heart

As the youngest of three, I was often the child in the car with mom, waiting for older brothers to finish appointments or extracurricular activities, and as she and I waited we listened to “Unshackled” on WMBI, Chicago.  This radio drama was devoted to stories of dramatic conversions.  Christians retold their journeys out of alcohol or substance abuse, sexual promiscuity, and broken homes.  As a kid in a sheltered Christian home, these stories fascinated me.  And they also established a paradigm of conversion in my mind.

But it’s a paradigm that has had to change.  While some Christians have a “Damascus Road” kind of conversion, many more have the kind St. Augustine describes in Confessions. In Book VI of the Confessions, St. Augustine laments his willing unbelief in Catholic Christianity even though he had already refuted the teachings of Mani. He describes a change that is a gradual letting go of old beliefs followed by an uneasy trust in a new account of reality. St. Augustine sought out a knowledge of God as certain as 7 + 3 = 10, but St. Ambrose instead offered allegorical teaching and holy mysteries.  As a result of St. Ambrose’s teaching, St. Augustine began to prefer the teachings of the Church before his conversion.  Further, Faustus, the Manichean bishop, could not satisfy St. Augustine’s probing questions. St. Augustine’s doubt concerning Manichaeism led him to a new kind of knowledge, not of the variety of 7 + 3 = 10, yet capable of providing rest for his restless desires.  As I reflect on Book VI, I realize that St. Augustine’s metanoia (change of mind) is analogous to the heartbreak and rebirth of romantic love.  This analogy is useful in exploring the experience of doubt and faith, which is as much a matter of the heart as of the mind. Continue reading

Mike Licona on Faith, Doubt, and the Resurrection

In this piece, Dr. Mike Licona discusses how his questions about faith led him to discover the strong historical evidence for the Resurrection:

Each of us has idiosyncrasies. One of mine is I’m a second-guesser. It’s hard for me to purchase a bottle of cologne without wondering before I leave the store whether I should have bought a different one.

I seem to question just about everything. I don’t want to make a bad decision, even in some very insignificant matters. So, it just makes sense that I often have doubts pertaining to decisions in significant matters. It’s not an intentional exercise. In fact, it’s downright frustrating to me. But it’s the way I’m wired.

What about my Christian faith? Have I ever experienced doubts? Many times. Have I been brain-washed? Do I hold my beliefs because I was brought up to believe them? What if I’m wrong? And it doesn’t help that our culture is growing increasingly hostile toward the Christian worldview.

Thankfully, when I began having these questions in the 1980s, a philosophy professor understood where I was because he had also struggled with doubts. Continue reading

Nancy Pearcey on Faith and Critical Thinking

We often think of apologetics as primarily oriented toward non-believers, but in fact it is vitally important within the church as well.

In this piece, Nancy Pearcey makes the case that critical thinking, far from being inimical to faith, actually helps to save it.

A study in Britain found that non-religious parents have a near 100 percent chance of passing on their views to their children, whereas religious parents have only about a 50/50 chance of passing on their views. Clearly, teaching young people to engage critically with secular worldviews is no longer an option.  It is a necessary survival skill. 

Read her whole article here, at The Pearcey Report.

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