Archives For Life Change


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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Doubt & Faith

Paul McMullen —  January 20, 2017 — 9 Comments


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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A few weeks ago I wrote about how pain, frustration and distraction are normal elements of spiritual growth. Unfortunately, when many of us experience these struggles in our spiritual journey we think that something is wrong with us and so we disengage. For some it turns into a cycle of engaging and disengaging. We get stuck in this rut and miss out on the spiritual breakthrough that comes when we persevere through the struggle.

Lately I’ve been reflecting on this dynamic through the lens of the 3DM Lifeshape, the Square. It offers some guidance for what to do when we’re feeling stuck.  I think it’s a helpful tool whether you’re feeling stuck in your professional growth, in parenting, in your marriage, or in your relationship with God.

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Last spring I bought a Groupon for 12 sessions at a CrossFit gym in Dallas. My inspiration was a friend who had dropped more than 100 pounds in 6 months while doing CrossFit workouts three times a week.

If you’re not familiar with CrossFit, it combines elements of rowing, Olympic powerlifting, gymnastics and stretching. And also death. It is not for the faint of heart.

I attended an introductory session called “Elements” to learn some of the basic movements of the workouts. It’s supposed to be an easier version of the full-blown CrossFit training.

About halfway through that hour-long class, as I was sucking wind and grimacing in pain, memories from high school weight training came flooding back. I knew what was coming – the way my muscles were burning. I knew what it meant.

I was going to have trouble walking for a while.

Oh, and I definitely had to run to the bathroom after the workout and puke.

That’s the way it is when you get back into weight training. If you get into it too quickly, and your muscles aren’t used to tearing so much, the lactic acid builds up, and the soreness can be excruciating.

Sure enough, in the days that followed, my body hurt. It hurt to walk on flat ground. It hurt to walk up stairs. It hurt to sit down. It hurt to stand up. It hurt to laugh. It hurt to get in the car. It hurt when someone looked at me.

It’s crazy, isn’t it? Something that’s supposed to be so good for you can hurt so bad!

And, as I think happens more than in just my experience, I didn’t go back. I certainly didn’t feel ready to go back 2 days later. And then a week passed. And then a month.

The initial pain of growth was too great to continue.

I think there’s some truth in this story that can be applied to spiritual training as well.

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The Key to Knowing God

Charles Kiser —  August 21, 2012 — 10 Comments

I’ve been reading Saint Teresa of Avila’s Interior Castle as part of some training I’m receiving from Mission Alive in Spiritual Direction. It is one of the most formative books I’ve read in a long time.

Teresa, a Carmelite nun who lived in the 16th century, describes one’s soul as a castle. Within the castle are seven rooms or mansions (or sets of mansions). At the heart of the castle, in the seventh mansions, is God.

The spiritual journey toward union with God, according to Teresa, is a journey through these seven mansions. Prayer is the way one enters the castle.

My biggest takeaway from the book is what Teresa says is the key to moving through the mansions.

The key to reaching the seventh mansions.

The key to intimate relationship with God and knowledge of oneself.

Again and again she mentions it.

One word.

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