Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Bible and Doubt (a DA link-up post)

My friend Karissa is hosting the next Doubters Anonymous link up, this time on The Bible and Doubt. We'd love for you to join us over here! If you have a post you'd like to share anonymously, please email me at alissambc at gmail dot com and I'll happily host you here. You can also check out the first DA link up, What I Want You to Know About Doubt, here.


I've written before about my experience with the Bible as a doubter, about how I loved it, then hated it, then ignored it, then art journaled in it. Needless to say, in my 27 years I've gone through most of the feelings one can have towards the Bible, from the loyal to the skeptical. I think I'd describe my present attitude towards it as cautious.

I know how the Bible can make you fall in love with it. I know how it can seem to have the wisest, most relevant thing to say about what you are facing that day, how you will happen to come right to the exact verse you most needed. I know how it can say the best possible words in difficult situations, both to and from others. I know how it can encourage and challenge and comfort in ways you never thought possible. I know how close it can make you feel to God and how badly you can thirst for that feeling.

But I also know how it can spin you in circles until you are dizzy and exhausted. I know how it can make you question the love of a God who is said to do entirely heartless things. I know how it can fling you back and forth between the fear of hell and the (possibly worse) fear of the nonexistence of God. I know it can trick you into a warm comfort right before shredding you to pieces with all the things that just don't make sense. I know how it can induce panic attacks and trigger self-hate and bring up all your very worst fears. I know how it can do all this no matter how much you try to trust or gloss over or find a more liberal interpretation.

If there is one thing I've learned about the Bible through all of this, it is that the Bible is not safe. It is not simple and it is not easy and it doesn't make for the most precious Sunday school fodder, no matter how the children's storybook bibles may try to convince you otherwise. It is dark and confusing and dangerous and it doesn't give any easy answers.

karissa knox sorrell

But despite all this, and despite the fact that I've been giving the Bible a very wide berth for the last couple years or more, I can't seem to shake a small affinity for it. For better or for worse, the Bible will always be my mother tongue, the stories and cliches and images I was raised on. Despite the pain it has caused me, despite the fact that I no longer believe it to be Big Black and White Truth, I maintain almost a warm place in my heart for it.

And I think if I am ever able to return to it, really return to it, it will be as someone who it not forcing it to be fact. It will be by appreciating it for both its imperfections and wisdom, both its darkness and beauty. It will be by cherishing its stories and themes and characters as an integral part of a deeply flawed but deeply meaningful tradition that I just can't seem to let go of.


  1. This is great. I totally agree that it's not safe, and that's a great way to put it!

  2. I can identify with almost everything you said. The popular C.S. Lewis quote about lions not being safe comes to mind... :) I love that guy. I feel like he kind of understood that he couldn't understand. And he was at peace with it. At least, that's how I picture him (C.S. Lewis).