Belief and Uncertainty

“How can I be sure?” is a commonly asked question that’s found its way into a popular song that has been a hit at least twice that I remember. The answer is, of course, that we can’t, about most things. We can be reasonable sure of many things, but certainty is often hard to come by.

This often is hard for Christians to deal with, as there seems to be a certain expectation in evangelical circles, at least, that one should be sure of their faith. I recall a book we read when I was in Bible school called Know What You Believe. I honestly don’t recall anything about the book, but I do recall thinking the title was a bit odd, coming as I did from a non-evangelical background (I was Lutheran, which thinks of evangelicalism differently).

The Certain Ones

Since then I have run across a few groups who claim certainty in what they believe. Calvinists, for one, seem pretty sure of their doctrine and will argue it at the drop of a hat. Many dispensationalist groups are similar in their convictions, as they cut and paste Bible verses to make them tell their stories. Then, of course, there are various cults, which I won’t bother to spend time with. To me, anyone who claims to be certain about their particular doctrine is waving a big red warning flag.

Faith (not Certainty)

I’m not talking about blind faith (which is a cultic certainty), but real faith. Kierkegaard famously talked about a “leap to faith,” which I find quite helpful. When looking at the evidence for anything, whether Biblical, scientific, experiential, and so forth, it will only take you so far, then you have to decide whether you have enough information to make an informed decision to believe in something. Is this path safe to walk on? Is this house a good investment? Should I marry this person?

When You Don’t Have the Answers

There will always be questions for which you don’t have answers, and you have to be okay with that. Christianity is full of these questions. What happens when we die? I don’t know. Will everyone be saved? I hope and think so, but I can’t be sure.

On the spectrum of belief, I am in many places on many different subjects. I believe more firmly in somethings than others. As I learn more, my beliefs change, and I move around on the spectrum. I am okay with that. I am reasonably sure about the basics: God loves me, and has my life in his hands, metaphorically speaking. Personally, I have enough to have made that leap, and I’m fine with being in the gray areas on many other unessential things.

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