The doubt that makes us more christians
Picture: Loic Leray/Unplash
For a long time in Christianity doubts have been seen as something to be avoided, or even rejected, since it could somehow make people to deviate from their faith or stopped being Christian . This, unfortunately, is no vestige of a time once, remaining in the minds of many Christian people today.
For these people, doubt is a sign of weakness and lack of faith. They treat walking with God as a path marked by the certainty, considering every step taken as the right step so that all doubt must be fought and won in order to have God´s delight in their lives.
This, however, brings a very heavy burden upon anyone. You can never be sure of all things, especially about those that cross the transcendent, spiritual and hermeneutical. Placing the certainties as a criterion of faith only reveals a low understanding of what faith really is. In most of the time we are talking about the definition of faith, we tend to refer to Hebrews 11.1 which states, in the most widespread translations, “Now faith is the sure …”. This translation is perhaps largely responsible for a misunderstanding of what faith would be. However, looking closely at the Greek text, it says that faith is the ὑποστασις ελπιζομενων , ie the substance (one possible translation ὑποστασις – hypostasis ) of things hoped for (ελπιζομενων) that TEB translated as “the mode of possessing now, what we have hoped for”. This translation, in line with the Brazilian translation, clearly links faith with christian hope, which is anchored in the One who made the promise and throughout the history of the heroes of faith, has proved to be teh One that meets their promises (Moltmann).
With that in mind, thinking faith as certainty shows itself as a no understanding of the depth of the term. At the same time, shows that doubt is not something contrary to faith rather something that, as a human stuff, walks along with it. This is noticeable in all reports that Hebrews 11 text itself shows about the heroes of faith. All of them, at some point in their journey was proved with questions about the calling of God and, oddly enough, no condemnation from God about it came in their direction.
This faith shows up as a slackline rope between two mountains on which we should walk. Under the action of the forces of nature, only the confidence in the One who held the rope at both sides of the mountain makes us enter into the adventure through the great gap between them.
Ratzinger in his book Introduction to christianity , brings a similar image to exemplify what faith is: it asks us to imagine a boat destroyed by a huge storm at sea, where there are pieces of wood everywhere. Having been thrown into the sea by the storm, we cling to one of these boards trusting that it is those little clapboards that will keep us safe from everything that happens around us. The thin board, in the sea of existence, is the christian faith in a troubled world.
Considering the rope image among the mountains, or the image of the thin board of the sea, the central aspect is that there is no guarantee or assurance of anything, only the confidence that rests in the hope that what is shows so fragile is able to sustain our existence, and based on that we decide to trust our lives to this.
Hopeless? No doubt. It requires trust? Absolute. Have some certainty guaranteed? None. There is only hope that the One we believe is able to keep his word.
With that in mind, we should not be afraid of questions. Rather, we must recognize them as something very human and, therefore, proper to faith. Thus, it is not hard to see that people who say they are more convinced and have more certain about the immutable truths are in fact those who facing any headwind against their certainties fall and do not rise anymore.
Those, however, who understand that faith is anchored in hope, and therefore is a bet made (Pascal), recognize that the storms of life, the difficult and anguish moments should not be regarded as a lack of faith, but only one of the times when the wind shook a little more the rope, or a wave came fiercer against the board, harder than those that came before.
In all this, however, faith makes us not let go neither rope nor the stump of wood.
This text is dedicated to Wincy Ho, dear friend who in her moments of doubt brought by strong winds, reveals itself, every day, more Christian than many people firm in their convictions.