How do Christian thought, doubt, and faith intertwine?
My journey tackling this question, told as a Cru Cornell senior speech in 2016
The Bible says “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1, ESV). It then says that THE way people since time began got approval before God was by faith. But before it goes on to give like a million historical examples, the writer makes it personal: “By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.” (Hebrews 11:3, ESV)
My paraphrase: by faith we think, we ponder, we consider, we understand that God authored the world and it’s transcendent purpose.
To be frank, I became Christian freshman year, doubted like crazy, by faith wrestled with God in my brain and in my heart, and now leave college convicted of an invisible hope. I hope you respond to my story by thinking SOOOO hard about what the entire Bible says and respond in complete surrender.
For me, all the way till high school, I enjoyed a sort of care-free bliss that was rooted in negligence. By this, I mean I never pondered the serious implications of things like death, a Creator God, or those topics we typically call “religion.” It was kind of a simple time.
By the grace of God, near end of high school, I realized that I didn’t have a clue of what I was doing and that I was pretty messed up. Desperate, I opened the box I put God in all my life, I began asking questions, reading the bible with others in my community group, and God showed me that he was a glorious lover waiting with arms wide open. Cornell Freshmen year, I fell in love with Jesus, and oh, how glorious he is. But when the infatuation phase fades, and it does for any person or passion, we must ask if that thing, that person, is worth it. For me, sophomore year the doubts came rushing in.
If anyone has read any of the works of Freud, Marx, and Nietzsche, you’ll perhaps recognize some of their sentiments in my doubts.
There I was walking around west campus in the rain talking to myself: Am I a Christian to ease the guilt in my conscience of my presumptuous, perverted, perfectionist past? Is praying just merely focused meditation — talking to myself a nice fluffy fairy tale? Singing songs at worship — am I getting closer to God or closer to my emotions? Boy, being a Christian got me an awesome girlfriend and faithful friends.
Who are you God? Are you even there?
I am a computer science major, I love discrete math and formal logic. The Bible sure seems complicated, convoluted, and contradictory from afar. Am I just intellectually lazy and did I just want an excuse to get comfortable telling people I had the right answer and they were wrong?
I remember being over at Michelle’s house, Michelle I’m doubting, please pray for me. Jesus, are you really the way, the truth, and the life, like you say you are?
Neitzsche asserted that anyone claiming to have the truth is making a power play. He asked the powerful: “Why do you call for love? Is it not just a way to keep anyone from revolting against your authority?” He asked the powerless: “Why do you call for justice? Is it not just a way for you to get on top?”
I cannot claim to understand all that Nietzsche asserted, but this standard of moral perfection is undeniable. What’s the true motive behind your actions? The entire Bible paints a clear picture that God so loved the world that he gave his only son and invites us to so love him back. Is this meaning of life, or has the Bible been cleverly fabricated for an ulterior motive?
In Ivy Room talking to Biebs, “yes, I’m doubting the resurrection of Christ”.
Have you ever felt like you belong in an insane asylum? I have.
Sophomore year, junior year, to this very day these doubts live in my head. You assert your opinion before me or mention anything divine, my mind is whizzing questioning your motives and explaining away the existence of the supernatural.
I now see clearly that I’m a selfish, twisted, inconsistent, hypocrite. You see through college, I realized that I’ll never leave where I started, not having a clue and being terribly messed up. I knew that I couldn’t trust myself, but I now know that I cannot trust anyone else but Jesus.
See, he showed me that he acknowledged and affirmed this standard of moral character.
He told the most religious people of his day, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness… For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.” (Matthew 23:23–25, ESV)
More importantly, he demonstrated for me that he alone upholds this standard, he alone is trustworthy, he alone can save me. Do you know my king? Read and you shall find that he is…
Tenderness without weakness. Strength without harshness. Humility without the slightest lack of confidence. Holiness and unbending convictions without the slightest lack of approachability. Power without insensitivity. Passion without prejudice. The harshest judgment on the self-satisfied, yet the most winsome kindness to the most broken and marginal. Never inconsistent. Never a false step. Never a jarring note.
He saved others, himself he did not save at the last.
Nowhere in history is there such a blending of opposites in one person.
After Jesus said something very strange and challenging to his disciples that sent many away, Jesus said to the few remaining, “Do you want to go away as well?”
Neitzsche told me that religion was a way for people to subtly accrue power.
Jesus, the powerful God in the flesh came and lowered himself, gave his very life on the cross so that I could be lifted up with him.
My senior advice, think. You’re being irresponsible or irrational not to do so.
I hope you’ll join me by faith to say, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”