Doubt

Posted: May 8, 2009 in Uncategorized

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Last night, I stayed up way too late to watch the critically acclaimed 2008 film Doubt.  Netflix summarizes the plot as follows:

In a Catholic elementary school in the Bronx, Sister Aloysius (Meryl Streep) begins to have doubts about one of the priests, Father Flynn (Philip Seymour Hoffman), who seems to have become overly involved in the life of a young African American pupil. But Flynn isn’t the only one she has doubts about. Is she overreacting to the situation or is there a truth that needs to be discovered? John Patrick Shanley’s drama was nominated for five Oscars and co-stars Amy Adams and Viola Davis.

The film opens with a sermon by Father Flynn on the subject of doubt, which, he argues, can serve as a unifying force in certain situations.  The sermon offends Sister Aloysius who begins to look for ways to sink the more progressive young priest.  Yet, in the end, the nun who seemingly crusades for certainty expresses her own doubts.

As a lapsed agnostic and now a pastor, I have witnesses this rather strange phenomenon.  Believers who have doubts attack others who express their doubts.  Why? 

It seems that there is such an innate desire for certainty that many will try to delude ourselves into it and fiercly attack those who dare to encroach upon our “happy place.” 

While I’m not a big fan of biblical scholar Walter Brueggemann, I remember him stating at an Emergent conference something like, “I will never understand Christian folks need for absolute certainty.”

Why is it that doubt is treated by many Christians as if it were a sin?

Augustine, perhaps the greatest Christian thinker between the time of the Apostle Paul and Martin Luter, stated that “only those who truly doubt can truly believe.” 

Moreover, I have always taken comfort in the man who said to Jesus, “I believe, help my unbelief.”  (Mark 9:24).

I pray that Revolution is a community where people can doubt openly, so that they may believe more deeply.

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