Wrestling Match

Paul McMullen —  February 15, 2017 — 1 Comment

Randy "macho Man" Savage, Hulk Hogan

In the last few posts, we’ve worked through Gregory Boyd’s objections to “certainty-seeking faith.” For many folks, I suspect you’ve been interested in getting to a renewed biblical view of faith. It’s not enough just to deconstruct our understanding of faith (as idolatrous!); we want to know how to reconstruct a faith we can live in.

Others may be happy that we’ve deconstructed certainty-seeking faith (with some pushback), but may be hesitant to move toward the reconstruction phase. We’ve been burned once, and we don’t want to get burned again. If you’re feeling that way, let me encourage you to simply consider a fresh look at faith. Honest searching is good and healthy for the soul.

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walker

This post continues looking at Gregory Boyd’s 9 objections to what he calls certainty-seeking faith. The bullet points below correspond with objections 7-9. Boyd takes a whole chapter to work through #9, so I’ll spend a bit more time explaining it.

The Case Against Certainty-Seeking Faith

  • Feeling over-certain in your beliefs is the cause of religious extremism and acts of violence in the name of God.

It’s an interesting point, and certainly relevant to our time. Boyd contends that this wouldn’t occur if people were more doubtful and humble. But can’t we just be humbler? Does doubt have to be the reason we don’t kill each other?

  • The end goal of certainty-seeking faith is for the believer to feel good about themselves. It’s self-serving rather than primarily concerned with truth. “The goal of believing the truth and the goal of feeling certain you already believe the truth are mutually exclusive” (pg.51). Boyd presents the case that rational pursuits of truth involve individuals weighing available evidence in a highly ambiguous, uncertain world.

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i-object-animal

Last week, I introduced Gregory Boyd’s recent book Benefit of the Doubt in a post called Hitting the Faith Puck. This week I’ll continue interacting with Boyd as he presents his case against certainty-seeking faith.

In chapters 2-3 Boyd raises nine objections against certainty-seeking faith. I’ll share a brief description of each objection and make a few comments afterward in italics. I’ll have to split this one up into two posts. Just a head’s up: these reflections are more philosophic, psychological in nature. We will get to Scripture, just not yet.

The Case Against Certainty-Seeking Faith

  • Trying to convince ourselves of certainty, without pursuing further evidence for a belief, is irrational. We shouldn’t have to convince ourselves to believe in something more fully than the evidence warrants. Forcing “certainty” doesn’t work.

On the other hand, repetition of a certain belief (“I do believe, I do, I do, I do”) does seem to eventually convince. In recent times the case has convincingly been made that people who listen to one viewpoint for long enough become convinced it is correct (and are astonished that others could disagree!). But I agree with Boyd that this is not a preferred approach to greater certainty. Repetition does nothing to change the evidence we’ve encountered about a belief.

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Hitting the Faith Puck!

Paul McMullen —  January 26, 2017 — 9 Comments

high-striker-scores

Last week, I began this series of blogs concerning the interplay between doubt & faith. Can the two co-exist? Are they antithetical to each other? This week I’ll be introducing a book we’ll use to spur some thoughts on the subject.

Gregory Boyd, in his recent book Benefit of the Doubt: Breaking the Idol of Certainty, has a lot to say about faith and doubt. In the introduction , Boyd points out that for a lot of Christian people, faith is seen as our level of certainty regarding what we believe. And for many of us, a lot is riding on our level of certainty. God’s response to our prayers, how blessed our life is, and even our very salvation can all be tied to the certainty of what we believe. For example, if we pray for someone to be healed and they aren’t, what does that mean about our faith? Does it mean that we didn’t feel certain enough that God would really answer our prayer? If only we had greater faith (faith = more certainty), then God would have given what we asked for. Right?

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Doubt & Faith

Paul McMullen —  January 20, 2017 — 5 Comments

hand-reaching-for-heaven

As I lay there looking up at the ceiling, I reached out my hand into the darkness and cried out on the inside, “If you’re there, won’t you let me know?” I spoke to God, whose existence I was uncertain of. I often laid awake at night, wrestling with doubt, wondering if he was there, wondering why he made it so hard to believe.

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