Apologetics Church culture Faith Theology

Virtue of the VERITAS

One of the first steps that must be made by the Church if she is to reclaim the meaning of the word faith is to continue hammering the nail of truth.

Faith as we understand it is grounded in truth. Faith is not a guess. It is not a blind leap. Faith is trust in the truth based upon knowledge of that truth as it (the truth) is expressed through evidence.

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1, ESV)

Our culture is in denial of truth, not a particular truth but truth itself.

Flanked by uncertainty

Truth is not the only front of this battle though. The present culture not only has denied the absoluteness of truth (its essence) but it has begun to doubt its (culture’s) own ability to trust. This mistrust of our own ability to trust is expressed in uncertainty.

Furthermore, this incessant worry over a lack of certainty has merged from vice to virtue, even in Christian circles.

From vice to virtue

With books like Benefit of the Doubt by Greg Boyd, Christians are being conditioned to doubt and not only doubt but also believe that to doubt is virtuous.

People like Boyd promote uncertainty in a post-fundamentalist Church where the memories of closed minded teaching marginalized any Christians who had healthy doubt as people whose sin somehow overcame their faith.

It is an easy sell to many who first of all had significant doubt and secondly were smart enough to realize that no one has absolute certainty on every Biblical doctrine.

Where doubt is conflated

Many Christians may have little doubt when it comes to God’s existence or the deity of Christ, but when it comes to the days of creation or some eschatological claim about the Second Coming, certainty becomes more difficult to own.

The old fundamentalist teaching that questioned the saving faith of those who doubted minor or less essential doctrine drove many away from the Church who could see the hypocrisy. “If you don’t believe that God created the Universe in six literal days then how can you believe that he rose from the dead in three?” they might say.

This conflation of essential and nonessential beliefs left many laypeople either with faith grounded in “what the preacher says”, a misplaced trust, or faith permeated with doubt.

That kind of false teaching not only drove doubters who needed to be taught to love God with their minds away from church, it created a giant black cloud which overshadowed the reality of what faith is. True faith, as fundamentalists presented it, was unattainable. So, people either threw the baby out with the bathwater or avoided giving it a bath all together.

For perfect faith is nothing else but assured hope and confidence in Christ’s mercy.

Thomas Cranmer[1]

 

Postmodernity

Other factors have played a part in determining the dependence on doubt. The post-modern fundamental tenant of a general mistrust of authority has taken its toll as well.

From government to the media we as a culture have lost our trust of all things authoritative. With confidence levels in the President in the 20% range and Congress even less, coupled with ten twenty four hour news channels telling us why we shouldn’t trust them, we have all but given up on any kind of certainty.

Science and medicine have also suffered at the hands of culture.

A great deal of trust has been placed on those two fields in the past only to be let down by events like the AIDS epidemic and the space shuttle tragedies. It’s hard to continue to trust and then be let down, constantly.

All of this and more have led us to a path of uncertainty and embracing it as right. The more uncertain, the better, many of us would say.

Meanwhile, those who hold to high amounts of certainty have been labeled as the simple-minded.

We have decided that to be open minded and intelligent we must be constantly and insistently uncertain about everything. Uncertainty has become the virtue of the VERITAS to be certain.

The question that I would like to ask though, is uncertainty Biblical? Can a believer hold to their own uncertainty as a virtuous quality?

It will never be well with you so long as you are swayed by carnal reason, and rely more upon your five senses than the four evangelists.… As the body lives by breathing, so the soul lives by believing.

Thomas Brooks[2]

 

[1] Ritzema, E. (2013). 300 Quotations for Preachers from the Reformation. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[2] Ritzema, E. (Ed.). (2012). 300 Quotations for Preachers. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

Donnie
I was born in the mountains of Southwest Virginia, born again at a very young age, married a beautiful and likeminded woman, moved to Tennessee, and raised two children in the Southern traditions of loving God and neighbor, exercising manners, and being stewards of the land and its bounty. After becoming involved in youth ministry in our local church, the need of teaching people "what they believe and why they believe it" became painfully apparent, especially in my immediate context (rural Southern churches). We began an apologetics/theology ministry there but have since moved on. After serving in church leadership and being called to faithfulness and duty to protect our congregation from a rogue pastor under church discipline of his previous church, my experiences in this biblical process shape much of what I believe about how churches in the South have become weak and why nominal Christianity is prevalent. I love the Church and Southern culture so you can expect to read about apologetics and theology as well as church and culture here, written southern style, by the grace of God. Deo Vindice
http://www.southernbyhisgrace.com

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