"There are two ways to slide easily through life, to believe everything or to doubt everything. Both ways save us from thinking." Those two paths-unquestioning belief and unyielding disbelief, fundamentalist faith and radical skepticism-have for years polarized the debate over religion. In its starkest equation, the polemic pits those who view reason as wholly antithetical to their beliefs, against those whose rationalism leaves no room for the mysteries of faith. But is there some middle ground?
*By Jonathan Merritt In 2010, Barna Group released a poll indicating that 4 out of 10 non-church Americans claim they do not attend due to negative experiences with churches or congregants. Seven years later, I doubt the numbers have improved. Countless Americans have been hurt by a church’s negative teachings, oppressive policies, immoral leaders, rigid expectations and misbehaving … Continue reading Hurt by the Church? It’s Time to Talk About It.
The church has an opportunity to really make a difference in our lives but sadly, that isn't happening. It's not an easy task, but I believe it is what Jesus would do. Many times churches invest all their energy and time on evangelism, which is important, but fail to see the hurting people right in front of them. A lot of churches begin the new year with fasting and prayer. They're asking God to give them direction and vision for the future. Maybe it's already there just waiting for you to open your eyes and do something. Maybe you're on the verge of walking past the Wounded Warrior as you travel the road to Jericho. Maybe it's time to take the parable of the Good Samaritan seriously...
Advent, which is the beginning of the church calendar, begins in stillness and the dark, with us facing our deepest fears, cultivating our hope for the light. In the silence and the darkness, we hear our own heart’s cry, our own flame of desire, our own longing for God.
I know first-hand how difficult times of doubt are and how complex the questions can be. Just like the father in Mark 9:24 , I've stood at the intersection of faith and doubt and cried out, "Help my unbelief!" Reading his story, I can understand his pain. You see, I wanted to experience the power of Jesus, but all I could see was my doubts.
After walking the road of doubt, leaving my faith, and returning I've learned a few things along the way. One of the most significant was discovering that a lot of the "heroes of the faith" struggled with faith and doubt. Over the next few posts, I'll share their stories with you. So let's dive in with none other than...(drum roll please) John the Baptist.