It’s hard to admit, and I guess I’ve never flat out stated it on my blog, but I struggle with my faith. You long time readers, I’m sure, were well aware of this. I know some of you are thinking that as confused as I sometimes get, you know I’m on the right track, but then again, I bet there’s a good number of you who think I’m totally lost with my questioning and some of my more liberal thinking, politically and theologically speaking.
Yesterday I was comforted by something my friend Andy posted on his blog. Andy and I have never really hung out but knew each other as we both attended the same Bible community at Irving Bible Church. We both just really respected each other and even attended each others wedding. Somehow he kept track of me and became a pretty loyal reader of this blog and I’ve added his blog to my RSS reader for quite some time now.
What I found comforting was his courage to share his struggles with his Christian faith and how he too came from a Baptist/Evangelical background. Heck, we both even attended Baptist colleges, so I feel I can really relate to the guy.
Below is a piece he shared, and even though I’ve taken a decent chunk of it, I don’t think he would mind me posting it here as it’s something that might help others who have a similar struggle. I kind of started it in a odd place as the “we” he is referring to is one of his friends.
We both grew up in the Baptist tradition, which in our case emphasized (among other things) Biblical inerrancy, apologetics, and certainty of one’s faith. For a given spiritual question, such as the Problem of Evil or the once-saved, always-saved debate, there was a right answer from the Bible that we needed to know and be ready to defend. Looking back, I can’t remember how much of the obsession with the “right” answer came from the church and how much came from my own perfectionistic and logical personality. I’m sure both played a role.
As I grew older, through a variety of life experiences and much soul-searching, I realized some things:
- I didn’t really have all the answers on matters of Christian faith, or at least that I didn’t like some of the answers I had to some of life’s toughest questions.
- What various churches taught and emphasized didn’t necessarily match what the Bible taught and emphasized.
- Different Christians, all well-meaning, could interpret the same Bible and understand the same God in vastly different ways.
These realizations scared me in ways I cannot fully explain.
You can check out the full piece here, but I like to add how he summed it up.
Finally, in ways I can’t fully explain other than to give God the credit, I found a way to return to a faith that I don’t fully understand, a faith for which I don’t have all the answers. When someone asks me a spiritual question, and I don’t have a solid answer, I can finally respond with, “I don’t know”. And be OK with it.
See, the trait I admire most about Andy is something I wish more Christians would adhere to and the one thing I think drove me away from the Evangelical church . . . Andy is sincerely honest and genuine, a true example of grace.
Andy ends his post with a link to Rachel Held Evan’s blog, something I actually referenced a day or two ago. Evans piece is titled Ten Things I’m Not “Ready to Give an Answer” About. Evans, like Andy, is honest and genuine about how she feels about her faith even if it clashes with her upbringing and the people around her, and I felt I could totally relate to most of what she was saying. Heck, I took comfort in it. I know for sure I have an answer for myself to #5 on her list, but here’s a sampling of her list in case you are interested.
3. I don’t know which Bible stories ought to be treated as historically accurate, scientifically-provable accounts of fact and which stories are meant to be metaphorical. I’m beginning to believe that it might not matter, that these stories can transform my life whether or not they refer to literal days, literal fruit trees, or literal floods.
6. I don’t know how God will ultimately judge between good and evil. In other words, I don’t know who’s going to heaven and who’s going to hell.
8. I don’t know why people are gay, or if being gay is a sin.
9. I don’t know which Church tradition best represents the teachings of Jesus Christ.
I know some of you are thinking there are some clear cut answers to her post and how on God’s green Earth can I not accept those answers. Truth is, I did accept those answers, but I never had the courage to say out loud that I didn’t really believe in them. The one time that I did, I was told I truly didn’t have a relationship with Jesus. Yup, that made me feel like a winner. I know there are some definite black and white answers when it comes to the Christian faith, but I think there’s a lot of more gray out there than people are willing to admit, and I’m finding gray to be a beautiful, graceful color which isn’t as “lukewarm” as I once thought.