DOUBT AND FAITH IV

“Have I been with you all this time… and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?”  (John 14.9-10)

I WORRY about “true believers”,’ writes Richard Rohr in his seminal book, Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the two halves of Life, those who cannot carry any doubt or anxiety at all, as Thomas the Apostle and Mother Theresa learned to do.’ People who are so certain of their faith that there is no room for doubt or pain, says Rohr, are like ‘Hamlet’s queen protesting too much and trying too hard.’

This kind of “faith” is a fear thing, a clinging thing. The deeper response, authentic living, is to be found in the creative tension between “knowing”, through experience, through Scripture, deep thinking, and that which is mysterious, un-“knowable”.

John’s Gospel is mystical and poetic. It is in the creative tension between the struggling mind of human being (represented on different levels by the Apostles and disciples, the scholars and priests, Romans and Jews) and the signs and sayings of the Messianic God – Man, Jesus. However minds, eyes or ears are opened by Jesus, the preconceptions and belief structures of accepted “wisdom” pull in the opposite direction.

So it is that, when Jesus speaks with the depth and breadth of the cosmos about ‘the way to the place where I am going’, Thomas voices the confusion of student Apostles who still, even after years of travelling with the Master, fall back on their own literalistic thought patterns, through which they grope for understanding

(“Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?”)

As fully signed up Christians, church people, chapel or evangelical people, charismatic or tradition people, Bible people or Spirit people, we can easily be complacent in our “knowing” of Christ. It is all too easy to swallow the denominational or Christian collective “pill” and so “know” Christ in our own image. When we do that we miss him. ‘Have I been with you all this time… and you still do not know me?

Earlier in the Fourth Gospel (chapter 3), John reports Jesus’ teaching about the need for his followers to be born from above. It is necessary for us to be born again spiritually, to be born of water and Spirit. Like Thomas, Nicodemus, the receiver of this particular lesson, is baffled by his own literalism. It is in the creative tension between reason and Truth, between doubt and Faith that the wild wind Spirit of God blows where it chooses. It is here in the wildness of unknowing, and not in the

cozy,

comfy-chair

doctrines of religion,

that Christ goes to prepare a place for us.

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~ by Fr Tim Ardouin on May 20, 2014.

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