I am taking History of Philosophy: Modern Philosophy this semester, and at first, I was like, "UGH! I'm not a philosopher; I'm not even a philosophy major! (Even though technically a Philosophy and Religions major, I just call myself a Religions major)." I could go on and on as to why I don't like philosophy and why I believe philosophy and religions should be two separate majors, but I won't. Basically, what it all boils down to is, in my opinion, studying religions is so much more practical and applicable to life than philosophy.
I developed this opinion mostly because of the endless debates I heard in philosophy, arguing over the definition of the word "perfection" or "infinite". For example, the other day in class we were debating about whether we can even grasp the infinite because we are human, and whether or not one infinity was greater than another infinity (I know, mind-boggling, right?). All I know is that pointless arguing leads to nowhere, and while I do love a good debate, these debates day after day after day just get ridiculous. I see nothing applicable in debating so much.
However, there was something in class the other day that made me really stop and pause. We were going over Rene Descartes' Meditations and discussing the existence of God. Descartes gave three "proofs" of the existence of God. While I won't bore you with them (unless you really want to hear them), one girl said something in class that I thought was rather profound:
"I don't know about all of you, but I think that the greatest fault of an omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient, perfect, benevolent God, would be--if he were so perfect in all his ways--to introduce his creation to something less than perfect. Doesn't that seem cruel to anyone else? Is he really that benevolent if he is just going to expose his creation to such turmoil? Does that make him perfect?"
I totally disagreed with her, and I wanted to say something about it, but six other hands shot up, and I thought, "Shoot... I'm never gonna get called now." So I leaned back and thought about what she said some more. How do you answer a question like that? How can you show someone the love of God when they can't get past the fact that God allowed sin into the world? Many questions went through my mind along those same lines.
This train of thought led me to another area: why philosophy is important (to an extent). Sitting down and thinking about questions like this really challenges our faith and makes us stronger Christians. How many times do we actually sit down and think about what we believe and why? How often do we "wrestle with our thoughts"? (Ps. 13)
Most of the time we just take for granted what our parents tell us, what the pastor preaches, or even what our friends tell us. How often do we sit down with the Bible and really dig into it? I mean, really get in there and see what God is saying about the tough issues. Are we comfortable Christians who sit on the couch and vege, absorbing information like a sponge and not processing it? Do we then sit on the couch and tell other to "do this!" and "do that!", pointing fingers and never once wondering why?
It's my personal opinion (and MANY people challenge me on this) that doubt is a necessary part of faith. First off let me define what I mean by doubt, so we don't get confused. There are two "doubts". One is when you wonder what is going on, but still go on with whatever the person is saying because you trust them. In this doubt, you think, "Well, I don't know if this can actually happen, but I'm going to take a leap of faith and do it anyway." The second doubt is the one the Pharisees had. In this doubt, you don't believe what the person is saying. Your thought is, "I don't believe it. Prove it to me." That form of doubt is not healthy, and Jesus condemned this doubt.When I say "doubt" from here on out, I am using the first one, not the second one.
If you don't doubt anything, than is it really faith? Let's look at faith: "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." (Heb. 11:1) So faith is knowing what we hope for will happen and being totally certain in what we can't physically see. But is that blind faith? By blind faith I mean faith without thought to what is going on, just doing it because someone said so. I think true faith requires immense thought. If you can't see something, then how can you know that it is there? You HAVE to think about it. You have to process it and work through it and struggle with some tough questions. Don't get me wrong, I know blind faith is essential in some parts of faith, but that is not our entire, holistic faith.
I know some people can just automatically know God, know He is there, know He has taken care of them, know He will take care of them, etc. They have been in church their whole life and take everything the Bible says just as it says it. Thats great! I'm so happy for them!
But that's not the majority of us. Many of us had seasons of doubt. In fact, MANY Biblical figures had doubt, but they turned out to be some of the greatest champions of faith! Lets look at some guys mentioned in Hebrews 11, the Faith Hall of Fame (we won't do all of them, that's a lot):
- Abraham and Sarah - wasn't sure God's timing was right, so he had a baby with Hagar (oops), but God was faithful and made him the father of many nations with Isaac
- Moses - oh boy... where do begin? Should we start at the Burning Bush or striking the rock in the desert? You get the point.
Ok, so these two HUGE patriarchs are in the Hall of Fame, yet had extreme seasons of doubt. Look at Peter, denying Christ, yet still became the leader of the early church! I'm just saying, many Biblical figures did amazing, powerful things because God worked through them even though they doubted.
I believe doubt to be an essential part of faith. I personally don't think blind faith is true faith. Many disagree with me on this, and that's ok. I have just seen so many people with faith as small as a mustard see move mountains! Why would God say "faith as small as a mustard seed" if we weren't supposed to wonder what He is doing sometimes? Wouldn't He use another analogy?
God asks us to follow Him, to totally trust in Him no matter what, even in our season's of doubt. But he never says "don't doubt me!" He does condemn the second form of doubt (as I mentioned above) (Matt 14:31; 21:21; Mark 11:31; Luke 24:38). But can we question what He is doing? Just look throughout the Bible at all the "doubters" and see how God used them in mighty ways. Even Job was allowed to question God. God returned the favor and questioned him, but God never condemned him for questioning. In fact, God blessed him ten times as much because of his faith through his doubt.
The point is, are you taking your faith for grated? Are you just sitting on the couch and sponging, or are you really processing what you have been told all these years? Also, are you trusting Him through the doubt? Or are you sitting there with your arms crossed saying, "God, I don't think you can do it"? What needs to change?
Following His Call,