Yesterday, the speaker at Weekly Manna was the law school dean, Rob Vischer, whose theme was faith and doubt.
Rob shared that from the time he was a child he had doubts about the tenets of his faith, doubts that still rise now and then. He also realized from an early time that the stakes were high for how he resolved those doubts.
He spend time talking about how he deals with doubt when it arises, and what are the sources of his faith. I think the most important take-away from his talk for our students, many of whom have experienced doubt about their faith and been unsure how to deal with those, were these:
First, doubt is not a bad thing. Doubt invites deep reflection. It is sometimes the case that when doubt never arises, people refrain from growing into a mature appreciation and understanding of their faith.
Second, Jesus did not deal harshly with those who doubted. Rob referenced John the Baptist, who even after baptizing Jesus, as he was languishing in prison asked “are you the one.” Jesus did not express anger there. Nor did he when Thomas doubted after the Resurrection. Rob also reminded people that Jesus often answered questions with other questions, suggesting he was less interested in forcing blind acceptance of doctrine than inviting people to work through things to come to an understanding.
Finally, that what matters is not to be paralyzed by our doubt. That is, to understand that faith does not begin where doubt ends. Rather, we live our faith alongside the doubt. Whatever doubts exist at the intellectual level for a Christian should not stop hime or her from living lives consistent with the model given by Jesus.