I had lunch with a new Christian on Saturday. He is in his thirties and had been raised around church but spent his twenties doing his own thing. He was baptized a few weeks ago and he told me he is feeling besieged since becoming a Christian. The Liar has been attacking him with all kinds of doubts. He believes, but he isn’t sure and is struggling with faith.
Believing isn’t about certainty. There is no certainty in believing God because believing God isn’t historical or scientific, it is mythic. Not mythic in the sense of being made up or untrue, but mythic in the sense that believing God is an attempt to understand and live truth about this world and humankind that lies beyond what we can test and approve (Luke Johnson, The Creed (New York: Doubleday, 2003), 54). Believing isn’t the absence of doubt. To the contrary, believing affirms that there is mystery at the heart of this life. There is more to our existence than can be seen and heard and felt and measured, something greater that demands our investigation while resisting all forms of direct examination. Life for life’s sake simply doesn’t make sense so we seek the divine not in an attempt to answer all of our questions or to find absolute certitude, but in an attempt to make sense of life that appears completely void without him. God is not a possible conclusion of reason but the necessary starting point in life (Johnson, 68). We believe in God precisely because he is of the same substance as this mythic life we live.
And so doubts are not our problem as there will always be doubt. We will always lack certainty. For what is the substance of faith if not, by definition, the presence of doubt? We believe despite our doubt. We believe, indeed, because of our doubt. We believe because our mysterious life which transcends full comprehension requires a mysterious God equally as incomprehensible. We believe because he has demonstrated himself to us in tangible ways despite our unbelief, and so proven himself as worthy of our confidence notwithstanding the mystery.
And so The Liar’s attempts to derail us with unbelief will not succeed. He cannot trick us into concluding that certitude is the substance of our faith for he knows that there is true power in faith amid doubt. There is mystery in life and there is mystery in God, and so there must be mystery in faith. This is one of the things that make life so beautiful!