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Necessity Of Doubt


Neon Genesis
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In seems that all too often in most Christian circles that the concept of doubt is shunned and demonized. Many churches condemn even doubting the existence of God as being a sin in itself. "Jesus died on the cross for you because he loved you! How dare you insult his death by questioning his love?!" they say. Some Christians try to give lip service to the concept of doubt by saying doubt is a trial of faith that can help strengthen your faith if you overcome it. While this sounds nice on paper, at best this regulates doubt to being a mere personality flaw who's only purpose is to reinforce faith but faith is still seen as superior to doubt. Rather than seeing doubt as being "complimentary" to faith, I think doubt deserves to be its own unique virtue within Christianity and Christians need to take back the word doubt instead of treating it as a dirty word that you should never ever utter. We often speak of following Jesus as having a "personal relationship" with him but with your ordinary friends, you don't just believe everything they tell you. You have to take what they say and compare it to experience to see if what they say rings true and doubt is very much an important part of any relationship. If we look at all the major changes within the church, these changes came about because brave religious "heretics" doubted the traditional authority. Even though he was a devout Christian, Galileo revolutionized the way we view our solar system by doubting the scientific authoritative claims of the Church. We wouldn't have access to bibles in churches and control our own interpretation if Martin Luther hadn't doubted the Church and started his own Reformation. If people never doubted Christianity's claim that slavery was approved of by God, blacks would still be 2nd class citizens and the same goes for the women's suffrage movement. In modern times, it's because of heretical Christians like Gene Robinson that people are questioning Christianity's traditional stance on homosexuality's compatibility with Christianity. In all these instances, it was because brave "heretics" and infidels questioned the status quo of religion that revolutions in Christian thought were able to happen and it was blind faith in archaic traditions that tried to stand in the way. I'm not saying all this to bash religion or to blame all these problems on faith or to suggest everyone deconvert from Christianity. But I think it's time that doubt replace blind faith as the primary virtue in Christianity and Christians stop treating doubt like it's a blasphemous cuss word because we wouldn't have the church we have today without doubt.

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Guest billmc

From my youth, I was taught that doubt was a sin. But in my experiences, though they were often painful, doubt has been the key that unlocked further growth.

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The way it was always explained to me was that it was ok to have doubts and question things as long as it brought you back to Jesus and strengthened your faith but if your doubts ever lead you to disagree with the church on something or worse to question the existence of God, then that was just unacceptable. But I really like this quote by Thomas Jefferson that I think applies here:

"Question with boldness even the existence of God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear."
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I like your point Neon,

 

My dictionary has 4 meanings for the word doubt.

 

1. A lack of certainty that often leads to irresolution.

2. A lack of trust.

3. A point about which one is uncertain or skeptical:

4. The condition of being unsettled or unresolved:

 

I find them all respectable and capable of moving one to positive results as in your examples so i would change #1 personally to...

A lack of certainty that can often lead one to a more accurate resolution

 

Doubt, in my view, of course has another side and can also be negative and a danger if it becomes excessive. It can lead to becoming cynical or so pessimistic that it becomes unhealthy. it can also lead to a total lack of trust in a marriage , between friends and elsewhere. Perhaps there is two sides to doubt and you have done a great job of accenting the positive so i am just mentioning the negative to keep some balance.

 

Joseph

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Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust [it] into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.

(John 20:27)

 

we all have doubts, i believe these are to be overcome, not embraced expanded in our hearts by all the wisdom of science and men, and then taught to others.......

Edited by stv2k
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Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust [it] into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.

(John 20:27)

 

we all have doubts, i believe these are to be overcome, not embraced expanded in our hearts by all the wisdom of science and men, and then taught to others.......

 

You appear to imply that, first, your own understanding of Christian Truth is definitive for all, then that any who begin to doubt such "truth" and move on cannot possibly be moving on to any deeper understanding of Christ, but can only in fact be willingly embracing error, this by seeing - once again, the implication is, wrongly - Christ as being present within the wider world beyond the confines set by a Biblical literalist parameter.

 

Please correct me if I am wrong.

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You appear to imply that, first, your own understanding of Christian Truth is definitive for all, then that any who begin to doubt such "truth" and move on cannot possibly be moving on to any deeper understanding of Christ, but can only in fact be willingly embracing error, this by seeing - once again, the implication is, wrongly - Christ as being present within the wider world beyond the confines set by a Biblical literalist parameter.

 

Please correct me if I am wrong.

your wrong, that is not what i am implying, i dont have the 'truth', Christ has the truth, it comes from him, my point is not to teach doubt to others but rather truth.

 

John 14:16-18 Jesus said, "And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another comforter, that he may abide with you forever; Even the spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it sees him not, neither knows him; for he dwells with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you."

 

 

 

21Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

22Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

23And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

(Matthew 7:21-23)

 

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

(1 corinthians 13:6)

 

38For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.

 

39And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.

 

40And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.

 

41The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, I am the bread which came down from heaven.

 

42And they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? how is it then that he saith, I came down from heaven?

 

43Jesus therefore answered and said unto them, Murmur not among yourselves.

 

44No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.

 

45It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.

 

46Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father.

 

47Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life. (John 6:38-47)

 

Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.

(1 john 4:1)

Edited by stv2k
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your wrong, that is not what i am implying, i dont have the 'truth', Christ has the truth, it comes from him, my point is not to teach doubt to others but rather truth.

 

John 14:16-18 Jesus said, "And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another comforter, that he may abide with you forever; Even the spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it sees him not, neither knows him; for he dwells with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you."

 

How do you "teach" Christ to others?

 

I'm sorry, but the whole tone of your posts is that your own Biblical Literalism/Fundamentalism - and the various theologies of "salvation" built upon it - is the sole foundation of any Christian "truth".

 

I agree we should seek to teach Christ to others. For me this does not necessarily have ANYTHING AT ALL to do with any particular "theology", Catholic or Protestant ( liberal or fundamentalist )

 

All the best

 

(Really, this is just a rerun of many other debates and discussions. I've been there are got the T-shirt, and I'm not looking for another. Hopefully you can move on and genuinely seek to learn from other here, as well as imparting your own particular take on Christ's truth.)

 

P.S. I would also contrast "doubt" with "faith", rather than "doubt" with "truth". I do think it is important to convey to others a positive way of being, rather than succumbing to the negative. For me, this is more living by faith - for me, a letting go and letting God, rather than a clinging to particular formulations and attempting to convince others that such are "true".

 

This teaching is a teaching of love and - in my experience - our capacity to do this is a gift of grace, and not of ourselves.

Edited by tariki
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Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust [it] into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.

(John 20:27)

 

we all have doubts, i believe these are to be overcome, not embraced expanded in our hearts by all the wisdom of science and men, and then taught to others.......

 

I agree that doubts should be overcome but in my view, the point remains that Neon made, , That is doubt has a positive side that has led to discoveries of falsehoods not only in science but in religion as well. It seems to me that when the false is revealed , truth is then left and the false is destroyed with the brightness of its coming. Without some doubt there would be no questions and if you were born in India, you would probably be a Hindu unless you had doubts about that religion.

 

Joseph (as Member)

 

PS Steve, there is no need to quote so many Biblical writings as in Post #7 to make your point. Use a couple if you must as they do not give authority to your view except to him that is so inclined on this forum. JosephM (as Moderator)

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I agree that doubts should be overcome but in my view, the point remains that Neon made, , That is doubt has a positive side that has led to discoveries of falsehoods not only in science but in religion as well. It seems to me that when the false is revealed , truth is then left and the false is destroyed with the brightness of its coming. Without some doubt there would be no questions and if you were born in India, you would probably be a Hindu unless you had doubts about that religion.

 

Joseph (as Member)

 

PS Steve, there is no need to quote so many Biblical writings as in Post #7 to make your point. Use a couple if you must as they do not give authority to your view except to him that is so inclined on this forum. JosephM (as Moderator)

 

so you would agree in Christian ministry for the purpose of turning people away from false gods?

 

why is there a limit on scriptural quotes that relate to a topic on a thread i created? i didnt stipulate a limit and i see no need for it.

Edited by stv2k
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oops, i didnt make this thread, my bad.

 

----

is doubt necessary? can teachings of the parable of the sower relate to doubt? who is blindly accepting things? I think some may have a uninformed opinion on the values of doubt. could you please show scripture that promotes doubt? why do you think that people who accept Jesus words as the word of God is blind acceptance rather than a acceptance based on strong faith developed by the spirit? I think it is impossible to have 'blind acceptance'.

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so you would agree in Christian ministry for the purpose of turning people away from false gods?

 

 

So, how many gods are there and which ones are false?

 

Should we assume if a different name is used that the entity is different? (Please note that the English word 'god' appears nowhere in the original Christian scriptures).

 

George

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we all have doubts, i believe these are to be overcome, not embraced expanded in our hearts by all the wisdom of science and men, and then taught to others.......

This is what I was talking about in my opening post where doubt is treated as a personality flaw that should be overcome and shunned rather than embraced. Like saying "we all have problems with overeating" or "we all have problems with lice." The problem with this is that it ignores all the contributions doubt has made to religion and sweeps all the problems with religion under the rug of faith where nothing gets resolved and the problems just collect dust. But imagine if Galileo had thought that everyone had doubts about scripture and we should overcome our doubts instead of embracing his skepticism of geocentricism. We would still be living in an age where people thought the Earth was flat and the center of the universe, bur even Jesus doubted the status quo of his time. Or in most recent times, imagine if we all just blindly accepted Harold Camping's predictions of the end of the world instead of applying our doubts to Camping. All religious believers have no problems applying doubt to other people's religions but for some reason when people apply self-criticism to their own faith, suddenly people are averse to critical thinking and examination of their faith's problems. Edited by Neon Genesis
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you should know what i mean. share in Christ teachings. all of them.

 

Steve (is it Steve?), I think it was clear that my words "How do you teach Christ to others" were rhetorical, clear because I answered the question within the rest of my post (answered as far as my own experience and understanding goes)

When you say "all of them" I find it difficult to relate. For me Christ IS forgiveness, Christ IS mercy. Christ IS grace, Christ is the light that lights all who come into the world, through Whom ALL things are made. His teachings were of Himself.

 

When Jesus was on this earth He Himself said that love of God and love of neighbour was "all of the Law and the Prophets". Christ came to fulfil the law; in a sense, to become the law. As far as my own understanding and experience goes, to speak of "all of His teachings" being needed only clouds the one thing necessary, mercy and grace.

 

The entire law is summed up in a single command: "Love your neighbor as yourself. (Gal 5:14)

 

Personally I choose to identify as a Buddhist, for me it points more clearly beyond the words/teachings to the reality itself.

 

Faith does not arise

Within oneself.

The entrusting heart is itself

Given by the Other Power. (Rennyo, a Pure Land Buddhist "saint")

 

All is gift, all is grace. Nothing is of myself.

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When it comes to human psychology there are no necessary and sufficient conditions. Tolerance of doubt, uncertainty, and ambiguity is an acquired skill, and a valuable one at that. Perhaps we would be better off with a little more emphasis on "how" knowledge before the acquisition of "what" knowledge".

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----

is doubt necessary? can teachings of the parable of the sower relate to doubt? who is blindly accepting things? I think some may have a uninformed opinion on the values of doubt. could you please show scripture that promotes doubt? why do you think that people who accept Jesus words as the word of God is blind acceptance rather than a acceptance based on strong faith developed by the spirit? I think it is impossible to have 'blind acceptance'.

 

Necessary? i believe it is a fact of human life and know of no one personally that has not experienced it.

Parable relate? Perhaps.

Who? i don't know, never said , just that doubt was in my experience superior to blind acceptance.

Yes, perhaps some may have an uniformed opinion on doubt's value. That seems quite human to me.

Not necessary for me to show scripture to make my point that doubt can be an opportunity rather than a threat. as i have already used in an example in this thread if you will carefully read post #9.

I do think that people who accept what is reported by men to be Jesus words without question or personal confirmation is blind acceptance.

I think it is possible to believe in Santa Claus by blind acceptance. Other things are also possible to believe by blind acceptance. We have a multitude of religions and sometimes opposing beliefs that to me, logically testify to the fact of blind acceptance on someones part.

 

Joseph

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I'm reminded of this other quote by the Buddha that I love:

“Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.”
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The Buddha and Kant appear to have been similar in their thinking:

 

Kant's first formulation of the CI states that you are to “act only in accordance with that maxim through which you can at the same time will that it become a universal law.” (G 4:421) O'Neill (1975, 1989) and Rawls (1989, 1999), among others, take this formulation in effect to summarize a decision procedure for moral reasoning, and I will follow them: First, formulate a maxim that enshrines your reason for acting as you propose. Second, recast that maxim as a universal law of nature governing all rational agents, and so as holding that all must, by natural law, act as you yourself propose to act in these circumstances. Third, consider whether your maxim is even conceivable in a world governed by this law of nature. If it is, then, fourth, ask yourself whether you would, or could, rationally will to act on your maxim in such a world. If you could, then your action is morally permissible.

 

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/kant-moral/

 

I agree with John Cobb, Jr. where he links some brands of Progressive Christianity with Kant. The similarities between Kant and Buddhism allow me to keep a foot in both worldviews.

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Steve (is it Steve?), I think it was clear that my words "How do you teach Christ to others" were rhetorical, clear because I answered the question within the rest of my post (answered as far as my own experience and understanding goes)

When you say "all of them" I find it difficult to relate. For me Christ IS forgiveness, Christ IS mercy. Christ IS grace, Christ is the light that lights all who come into the world, through Whom ALL things are made. His teachings were of Himself.

 

When Jesus was on this earth He Himself said that love of God and love of neighbour was "all of the Law and the Prophets". Christ came to fulfil the law; in a sense, to become the law. As far as my own understanding and experience goes, to speak of "all of His teachings" being needed only clouds the one thing necessary, mercy and grace.

 

The entire law is summed up in a single command: "Love your neighbor as yourself. (Gal 5:14)

 

Personally I choose to identify as a Buddhist, for me it points more clearly beyond the words/teachings to the reality itself.

 

Faith does not arise

Within oneself.

The entrusting heart is itself

Given by the Other Power. (Rennyo, a Pure Land Buddhist "saint")

 

All is gift, all is grace. Nothing is of myself.

 

if this is all Jesus wanted us to hear then why did he keep speaking?, through Christs teachings we actually learn what love is and how to love one another, without his teachings and following what is his to command of his disciples i wonder if one can understand what he meant by 'loving one another', it is not just mouthing it.

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The Buddha and Kant appear to have been similar in their thinking:

 

 

 

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/kant-moral/

 

I agree with John Cobb, Jr. where he links some brands of Progressive Christianity with Kant. The similarities between Kant and Buddhism allow me to keep a foot in both worldviews.

 

isnt buddism a belief system in which they hold a man who is alive today as 'god incarnate' and he is always replaced by another when he dies? correct me if im wrong

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if this is all Jesus wanted us to hear then why did he keep speaking?, through Christs teachings we actually learn what love is and how to love one another, without his teachings and following what is his to command of his disciples i wonder if one can understand what he meant by 'loving one another', it is not just mouthing it.

 

Steve, once again I find it difficult to relate to your own perspective. I speak of Christ BEING mercy, forgiveness, grace - and He claimed such by saying that those who have seen Him have seen the Father, the fount of love. And your response is "is that all Jesus wanted us to hear"?

 

For me the heart is in the word "hear". For me, to truly hear IS to live from grace, not works, to live with love, and not merely mouth it. You imply that those in our world who in fact hear in such a way can only be those who listen to the various parables of Jesus, to His various "teachings" found in the Gospels - the Sermon on the Mount etc. My own experience is, looking back through history, and looking around our world, that those who truly love, who walk their talk, are people of all Faiths, and sometimes of none. And, to be brutally honest, many who have apparently studied the teachings of Jesus - or at least, seek to evangelise others based upon their own study and reading - have sadly often been those without love, who seem unable even to comprehend the beginnings of love........

 

The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them. (Thomas Merton, Trappist monk)

 

It appears to me that genuine love comes to be in infinite ways - certainly beyond any narrow way defined by any particular interpretation of Biblical verses. Yes, love can be learnt from such, but not exclusively so.

 

As others say here, often......just my way of seeing and understanding, based upon my own life experience.

 

All the best

Derek

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isnt buddism a belief system in which they hold a man who is alive today as 'god incarnate' and he is always replaced by another when he dies? correct me if im wrong

 

Steve, I will correct you, as you are wrong.... :D

 

Buddhism knows no "creator God", and I have not heard of any Buddhism alive today that sees someone currently living as "god incarnate". ReINCARNATION is basically a Hindu concept. The atta (self) incarnates "within" us ( though the Hindus are quick to emphasise that any attempt to define such a self should be met with the cry neti! neti! neti! - not this, not this, not this). The Buddhist teaching is that of AN-atta, the "an" denoting "not".....therefore, not-self. There is nothing to "incarnate", let alone "replaced". Which, sadly, leads to much literature which seeks to claim Buddhism is "souless", "nihilistic"...whatever. Such is not the case, but I really do not have the time at the moment to expand on this.

 

If you have a genuine interest in knowing more about Buddhism, you could take a look at the "Other Wisdom Traditions" section on this forum, and my own thread "Buddhist Images".

 

Again, all the best

Derek

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isnt buddism a belief system in which they hold a man who is alive today as 'god incarnate' and he is always replaced by another when he dies? correct me if im wrong

 

Steve,

 

This is not quite the sprit of my post. What I am saying is that, at a certain level of abstraction, East and West tend to look the same to me. The metaphysical machinery is not my main interest, although I find the sysmbolism inspiring.

 

Myron

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