Tuesday, February 4, 2014

A (sort of) Doubter's Manifesto

Recently, a dear friend of mine mentioned that, while she was clear on the fact that I was experiencing doubt, she was still cloudy on what it is exactly that I doubt. This was probably subconsciously intentional on my part. It is far easier to let people know I am doubting than it is to bring up my actual doubts. But the truth is, while my doubts (and a thousand other things) may make me feel uncmfortable, they are not something I am ashamed of. So here goes: 

I am a doubter. 

On most days, I doubt some combination of God's love and/or existence. (These days, thankfully, are becoming less frequent [ironically] in my time away from church. I am learning to meet God outside of the world and rules I have always found him in. Which is refreshing and breathtaking and makes me feel that he is good.)

I doubt the true identity of Jesus and the meaning of his words. ( I used to be so head over heels for Jesus. He's the best part of all this mess, right, with his radical notions and his love for the poor and his endless self-sacrifice? I know, I know! But he's also the Jesus of the sheep and the goats, the camel and the needle; and his lines in the sand are forever ruining my beloved ideas of an all-inclusive God.)

I doubt the inerrancy of the Bible. (Is every word really "God-breathed"? Did God really command the violence and hatred he seems to? What is the difference between factuality of events and the truth of how we experience or perceive things? Can the Bible be good without being fact? Can a person be a Christian without believing it?)

Obviously, that last doubt leads one down a rabbit hole of doubts too long to list. And honestly, I doubt nearly every one of the assumptions under which my faith once smoothly operated. It makes the question what it is exactly that I doubt a rather long and complicated one to answer. And this is my life, perpetually in grey ambiguity, every day a different shade. 

There are a few doubts that are becoming slowly clearer to me. Questions like: Is homosexuality a sin? Can women lead? Must men always? These are issues I have long wrestled with, hesitant to take a side. Like all my doubts, I can never be 100% sure I am right, but for the sake of my sanity, I am learning to land somewhere anyway. Spoiler alert: I don't believe what I used to. 

Then there are the questions that keep me up at night, the ones I most need answered, but probably never will.

What happens to non-Christians when they die?

What happens to any of us when we die?

What happens to me when I die?

Can God redeem everything? 

Will He? 

It's enough to make one consider leaving the faith alltogether. Trust me, it's something I've considered. It does seem like the most logical option, considering the evidence.

And yet. Something about this Jesus narrative, the tradition in which I was born and raised, refuses to let me go. So I doubt from within the trenches or, these days, from the vagabond edges of faith. I wrestle and thrash and protest. I experiment and break rules and skip church. I rarely ever pray, at least not in the way I've been taught. I read the Bible even less. 

But somehow, in the midst of all that I am learning to embrace mystery, I am learning to fall in love with mystery the way I once fell in love with God. I am learning to believe that the mystery is God. And that's all that matters in the end, right? 




God in the everything and God in the nothing. God in, among, and around it all. God outside of any doubts and fears and rules and understandings of who (s)he can and cannot be. 

I am learning to love a God different from the one I once tried to manipulate into loving me by spending enough time with him. The God I love now, he doesn't try to fix me or force me. He holds my questions in his heart like a gift, and he doesn't try to answer them. 

Will you join me? Will you write your own doubter's manifesto? If you do, let me know. I'd love to read it. 


  1. "I'm learning to fall in love with mystery the way I once fell in love with God."

    I love this so much. I am finding doubt more and more sacred. Without doubt faith is nothing but cold, hard facts.

    I'll let you know when I write my own declaration!

  2. Loved this. I can so relate. Here's mine: http://jeannieeurich.wordpress.com/2014/02/06/doubt/

    -jeannie (of "wandering into the woods" -- i didn't disappear completely)

    1. Thanks Jeannie! Loved hearing from you.