Doubt has changed the landscape of (American) Christendom. At one point, it was cool to question everything without trying to find real answers (Emergent anyone?). Although, this is certainly an overstated and simplistic view, the point still stands; I am not saying doubt is not a real issue, though.
Doubts are real
People are truly wrestling with the tension of what they have been taught and what they see and experience in real life.
Our society has moved from Modernism (“This is true”) to Post-Modernism (“Is this true?” “What is true for you is not true for me”) to a Neo-Modernism (“the answers I was given don’t hold enough weight for me to accept them”).
The answers are not failing as answers, however. I believe they are couched in the wrong verbiage. This does not mean we change the answers. We change how the answers are expressed.
I am not advocating the dumbing down of our answers. We are not talking with five year olds. We are talking to adults who have potentially faith-alleviating doubts.
I am advocating the rewording of our answers in a thoughtful, meaningful, and concerned way.
Modernism was a double-edged sword
Modernism was a blessing and a curse. The silver bullet approach to answering skeptics years ago has lost its effectiveness. Those answers are shrugged off like water off a duck’s back.
Many reasons attribute to this. One significant reason is biblical illiteracy. But more to the point, foundations for the “silver bullet” answers of yesteryear have disappeared. The building blocks which establish the answers have been eroding beyond recognition or have been completely dropped out of the collective discussion.
In other words, we are somewhat used to giving a simple answer to a question and people accepting that answer (whatever it is), but that was because the groundwork for the answer was already laid because biblical literacy was more common then than now.
The issue is immensely complex. The solutions are even more complexly difficult to implement. But here is a starting point for furthering the discussion:
- Prayer ala – “Why weren’t our answers to the questions good enough?” 29 And he said to them, “This question cannot be answered by anything but prayer.”
- Time – We need to spend a TON of time with those who have the questions
- Effort – We need to demonstrate our love for others in the difficult process of digging for answers
- Build Biblical Literacy – We need to construct anew the foundation for our answers
What do you have to add?
14 And when they came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd around them, and scribes arguing with them. 15 And immediately all the crowd, when they saw him, were greatly amazed and ran up to him and greeted him. 16 And he asked them, “What are you arguing about with them?” 17 And someone from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a spirit that makes him mute. 18 And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able.” 19 And he answered them, “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me.” 20 And they brought the boy to him. And when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. 21 And Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. 22 And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” 23 And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” 24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” 25 And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” 26 And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, “He is dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. 28 And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” 29 And he said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.” (ESV)