A Blog By Josh Trombley
There has been a lot of doubt and skepticism from “high profile” Christians. Many have felt that there hasn’t been a place for this line of thinking in the Christian movement. While there are circles where this is not encouraged, there are also a ton of circles that are exploring.
I have seen a few rebuttals by bloggers and musicians that have some excellent points. Some have pointed out the holes in the arguments; others are urging us to follow God and not celebrity.
As much as these points are valid what needs not to get lost in the conversation and what I want to say to those who identify with the struggle of faith that has invaded so many Christian leaders is, It is ok to struggle with God and your faith. I believe it is un-Christian to not.
To not struggle in some capacity or another is to say that you have a full understanding of not just what the Scriptures say, but of God. If you believe in the God of the Scriptures, then both of those premises are absurd! Us understanding God is like a chair trying to understand it’s maker. The maker of the chair is so far beyond what the chair could ever comprehend.
Luckily we have Scripture and can experience God in beautiful and rich ways. To say that Scripture should be the thing that pulls us through and anchors us into the world of certainty is to claim that we have a perfect understanding of what the Scriptures say, which we don’t. Not even close. We rely on wisdom, experience, and tradition, and we do the best we can.
Often not recognizing this, we fix our faith to unhealthy paradigms.
When doubts and questions appear to unfurl our sails of faith, we become crippled. Instead of pushing forward to discovering brave oceans of new realities in God, we can either give up and lose hope or bunker down in safe coves.
I see neither of the later as viable options.
I believe it is good to doubt and question. When I look at the Scriptures, I can’t help but see a God who wants us to wrestle with the big issues, always realizing that there is more to learn.
There is a story at the beginning of Scripture that articulates this. There is a story about a man named Jacob. Jacob, like us all, has some serious baggage, much of which is self-inflicted.
As Jacob begins to travel to create a new life for himself and his family, he begins to wrestle with his ideas of what his life is and who God is. The book of Genesis records the Jacob has an encounter with an angel where they wrestled, and Jacob left with a limp and a new name. In the words of Switchfoot, however, “[he] wrestled an angel for more than a name.”
The Scriptures record,
“Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.”
While the name change is important, we must not lose sight of how the ancient rabbis interpreted this verse. They believed that this set the premise for our approach to the Scriptures and a relationship with God. (more in this in Chapter 2 of my book Hidden faces).
There should never be a point when we stop wrestling with God, Scripture, or hard questions. It doesn’t mean a patchwork of ideas that we throw together as though we’re filling a pothole, but there are times when we need a fresh coat of pavement.
It is not that Scripture, tradition and experience don’t matter. That somehow our wrestling with the big and small questions undermine everything. It just means that sometimes we need a tweak and other times we need a new street.
For me, because I have experienced God, it demands me to push to understand this life deeper. There have been times when my tradition has let me down, majorly. There have been times when no matter how much I trusted and looked at Scripture, it left me frustrated, confused, disillusioned. I had an experience that I could not deny. I knew and still know that there has to be something beyond myself and that faith isn’t built upon the straw of others nor upon the weak foundation of my limited understanding of an ancient text.
My faith is built upon the fact that I have had experiences with something beyond myself. It now demands of me to wrestle.
Saying this, if my faith stopped at the experience and didn’t have the structure of tradition (tried and true practices, rituals, and paradigms) and the Scriptures (God’s word that tells of the Word, Jesus) then my faith becomes a kite flying in the wind with no string.
Finish reading at www.joshtrombley.com & also check out more excellent blogs from Josh.