This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://biologos.org/blogs/deborah-haarsma-the-presidents-notebook/god-is-big-enough-for-our-hardest-questions
Hooray someone comfortable with referencing non essential aspects of Christianity. If only all Christians would have this understanding and tolerance towards the differing interpretations of some of the OT accounts. It’s a sad fact that many Christians and non believers alike are disillusioned by what they hear from other Christians and the Church. To the extent that they turn away from Christ. As Christians we are charged with bringing the news of salvation to all men and that salvation is not dependent upon whether we believe in a literal flood or seven literal creation days or that the earth is only a few thousand years old. So thanks to you for an honest account of your journey with God. It’s good to doubt and to raise questions. He really is big enough!
I truly love reading these testimonies at Biologos including this one because of their great endings. Unfortunately, there are plenty elsewhere that don’t end so well.
One thing puzzles me… why the temptation to stop believing in God when a conflict in faith arises? It seems like there is the tendency to ‘throw out the baby with the bathwater’. I don’t get it.
In science, conflicts occur often. When the happens scientists look more deeply and refine their understandings. Gravity wasn’t tossed when problems were uncovered with newtonian physics. Instead, it was refined via relativity. Perhaps that’s why Biologos, with its science bent, is the leader it is for many struggling with their faith.
Jen Rutkowski here. For us, I wouldnt describe it as a temptation to stop believing when conflict arose, but rather that it was seemingly the only option available. There tends to be a false dichotomy in many Christian circles that you either walk a very straight and narrow set of beliefs to “get you to heaven” or if you dont, you are rejecting God and might as well be an unbeliever. This leads to the result that one can completely love and follow Jesus but not be considered a Christian because of different opinions on “non essentials”. But in some churches, everything is an essential, every molehill a mountain.
Thank you! Something that helped us in our faith journey was that we had the privilege of being involved in an interdenominational Army chapel. We attended the Protestant traditional service with people from Lutheran, Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian, etc backgrounds. Concurrently to our service in a different part of the building met the Catholic Mass and a full Gospel service. On top of this, different military chaplains preached and they came from different Protestant backgrounds. Plus, their main job (from what I could gather) was not as a preacher, but as the spiritual heart of the Army.
While this setup does have its drawbacks, it was great to see the larger body of Christ interacting and working together.
Thank you so much for sharing your journey and struggles. My husband and I are in a very similar place and it seems that none of our friends can handle the hard questions we are asking. If they knew the depths to which we are questioning the Bible (as interpreted by evangelicals) and mainstream Christianity (the political and legalistic version), they would deem us heretics. We are thinking outside the box and challenging the logical fallacies and emotional pandering that fill so many sermons. We want our faith to be fully based on truth. As we wrestle and sort through these issues, we have found Biologos to be such a source of encouragement and comfort - your story included.
Blueberry - you have my deep empathy. I touched on this in my story, but learning that Godly people disagree on major parts of the Christian faith was very helpful and freeing for me. For instance, before embarking on this faith journey, I thought that all Christians, or at least all the “real” ones, believe in the “eternal conscious torment” version of hell. However, I have since learned that John Stott was an annihilationist, George MacDonald (CS Lewis’ spiritual mentor) was a universalist, and CS Lewis (the non-evangelical darling of evangelicals) is not a proponent of eternal conscious torment, if his books “The Great Divorce” and “the Last Battle” are anything to go by. If this is an area you have questions about, I highly recommend reading “Surprised By Hope” by NT Wright.
Are you an American? I didnt realize how much my culture influenced my Christianity until I learned that British evangelicalism looks very different from the American version - and we have relatively similar cultures!
Keep reading! Alister McGrath wrote a helpful book called “Doubting: growing through the uncertainties of faith”. It is only 150 pages and might help you.
What are your thoughts on the Apostles Creed? It was written before the 4th century and contains the main elements of the Christian faith for the early church. I am no theologian and am not prepared to argue this creed, but seeing what was essential to the faith for the early church helped me understand all the extras I had added on as essentials to my faith.
Lastly, I have not yet read it, but Peter Enns book “the Bible Tells me So: why defending Scripture has made us unable to read it” looks like a good one. He also has a great blog and also blogs here (I love reading his articles here), which is how I heard of him.
I very much respect your willingness to grapple with the hard things.
I grew up around a general confusion between biblical faith and having confidence. If one lacked some kind of 100% absolute confidence in what one believed about the Bible and Jesus Christ, one thereby had a “defective” faith. Yet the Apostle Paul said “We see through a glass but darkly.” I think about that verse a lot. I don’t the Apostle Paul had a weak or defective faith.
An unexamined faith is an untested faith. And faith is not just a feeling of confidence. But I can understand why those who demand “faith=100% absolute confidence” are often so filled with fear whenever they encounter Christian brethren who don’t agree with them on everything. For example, another thread talks about recent CMI articles blasting Biologos. They seem driven by fear:
It is interesting to contrast the tone on the site when discussing the Bible and the tone used when discussing science, especially evolution. In the former, evasive phrases like “it can be argued that”, “BioLogos is compatible with the idea that”, and other phrases designed to give an impression that they are taking a stance when they are actually bending every way they can to avoid taking a stance on a positive teaching of Scripture over their science, which is their ultimate authority. If this is characteristic of all their writing, one could conclude that this simply shows that they are not only compromisers, but that they actually lack any courage or fortitude in standing up for the Bible at all. However, they do not shy away from definite statements about evolution and science.
So, “courage” and “fortitude” are important to them. On the other hand, I had to laugh when I read the complaint about "However, they do not shy away from definite statements about evolution and science. " considering that CMI often complains the language of science is filled with phrases like “It appears that…” and “The evidence suggests that…” and “Observations seem to corroborate …” Ken Ham & Co. do likewise, complaining that scientists do not speak with the same 100% absolute assurance as do dogmatic Young Earth Creationists. Very interesting.
“The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.” I realize that Bertrand Russell was not the first to make that sort of observation but I reflect on it often.
If someone insists that they’ve always been 100% certain of every aspect of their faith, I tend to think them either dishonest or shallow. That’s probably not fair on my part. We should respect the very different paths that life has given each of us. Even so, it is easy to notice that this website welcomes those who are exploring these topics while the websites of most Young Earth Creationist ministries are very carefully restricted so that even the articles denouncing other websites tend to avoid linking to them and in the few places where reader comments are allowed, the censorship is quick, relentless, and reflective of extreme fear.
And true faith should not be characterized by fear. Moreover, there should be no fear in love.
God is bigger
Your vehemence and sarcasm belies your attempt at objective response, Old Guy. You can’t use ISIS as refreshing, because you don’t believe it. I can use challenges to evolution as refreshing, because I believe it, and because evolution, like ISIS, has at its root, a philosophical and religious antagonism towards Christian faith. Even though there are moslims who do not attack Christians, and even though there are evolutionists who do not attack Christianity, the fundamentals of evolution and of Islam, are antagonistic towards some basic principles of Christianity. Evolutionism is an attempt to remove God from the equation, and ISIS is an attempt to make Mohammed superior to Christ.
If you were not antagonistic, you would be able to decipher a reason. If humans descended from a common ancestor, then it would make sense that the ancestor would have a variety of genetic characteristics. In the case of color, we would expect an intermediate color which would allow the future segregation of races. Whether this is entirely accurate logically or not, it is not an unnatural presumption. Your assumption that the people of Africa have never changed since the beginning of humanity is not more reasonable.
Many creationists could and did say that Nye won the debate, but also said that their debate did not convince them to change their mind, because Ham simply did not respond with some well known rebuttals. In many other cases, creationists have clearly won debates, and Ken Ham is not the most knowledgeable creationist by a great margin. If evolutionists hang everything on one debate, they are perhaps a bit too gleeful.
This again reveals an ignorance of the argument. There are many many kinds of animals that did not need to be on the ark, eg. fish, bacteria, insects, whales, dolphins, etc. Nor did plants have a requirement to be on the ark.
As for what Ken Ham does with the ark… of what relevance is this? Is this some kind of covetous envy thing for you? Having seen the 1/3 scale ark in Europe a few years ago, I found the experience beneficial, to give some perspective of what the ark might have resembled. The full size models both in Europe or on Ken Ham’s farm are hurting no one, even if they are not exact in every detail.
Is it important to you to rebuff or quantify these statistical claims? why? Do you have numbers that would likely invalidate their claims? I think the point is that they have lots of science PhDs, and are unaware of a christian organization that has more, although perhaps they are not including some christian colleges in the group of organizations.
This is like saying that the USA created ISIS, which believe it or not, is a conspiracy claim by some. In fact, YEC ministries do respond to evolutionists, and also to TE, because these exist. YEC do not create them. In fact, it is as much in reverse, that biologos and similar organizations are a response to YEC. Claims like this are diversionary, speculative, emotional, and attitudinal. The real situation is obvious, and the disputes and discussions are real. (Fear-ist - now there is a word