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Exploring Doubt Peter Fitch, St. Croix Vineyard Sunday, November 17, 2013.

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Presentation on theme: "Exploring Doubt Peter Fitch, St. Croix Vineyard Sunday, November 17, 2013."— Presentation transcript:

1 Exploring Doubt Peter Fitch, St. Croix Vineyard Sunday, November 17, 2013

2 Last week Short film by Ronald Rohleiser (the difference between a good or bad imagination and the existence of God) Lots of discussion Some ideas from ancient voices A challenge from G. K. Chesterton (perhaps we should doubt some things—like our own response—and not others—like our convictions)

3 This week...more thoughts Many voices teaching that the opposite of faith is not doubt, it’s certainty Why? Certainty is the realm of pat answers: no room for exploration, little room for growth Faith seems to include room for mystery, gestation of ideas, struggle, and breakthroughs

4 A1, A2—B1, B2

5 Abraham Doubts Vision Genesis 15:15 After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, “Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” 2 But Abram said, “O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3 And Abram said, “You have given me no offspring, and so a slave born in my house is to be my heir.”

6 4 But the word of the Lord came to him, “This man shall not be your heir; no one but your very own issue shall be your heir.” 5 He brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” 6 And he believed the Lord; and the Lord reckoned it to him as righteousness.

7 An alternate plan 16 Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, bore him no children. She had an Egyptian slave-girl whose name was Hagar, 2 and Sarai said to Abram, “You see that the Lord has prevented me from bearing children; go in to my slave-girl; it may be that I shall obtain children by her.” And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. 3 So, after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her slave-girl, and gave her to her husband Abram as a wife.

8 Moses Doubted Himself Exodus 4:10 But Moses said to the Lord, “O my Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor even now that you have spoken to your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” 11 Then the Lord said to him, “Who gives speech to mortals? Who makes them mute or deaf, seeing or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? 12 Now go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you are to speak.” 13 But he said, “O my Lord, please send someone else.”

9 And he doubted God... Exodus 5:22 Then Moses turned again to the Lord and said, “O Lord, why have you mistreated this people? Why did you ever send me? 23 Since I first came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has mistreated this people, and you have done nothing at all to deliver your people.”

10 Then back to himself On the day when the Lord spoke to Moses in the land of Egypt, 29 he said to him, “I am the Lord; tell Pharaoh king of Egypt all that I am speaking to you.” 30 But Moses said in the Lord’s presence, “Since I am a poor speaker, why would Pharaoh listen to me?”

11 Then, once more to God... Numbers 11: “please kill me at once!” (when the people are asking for meat in the wilderness) And on it goes... Doubt seems like a part of the formation process

12 Elijah doubts everything Check out 1 Kings 18 and 19

13 So, what do we see? Weakened vision gets brought back into line (Abraham) Weakness finds courage and strength (Moses) The one who knows God a little gets to know Him better (Elijah)

14 St. John of the Cross Interior developments through a “dark night of the soul” Stages: passive night of sense, passive night of spirit Finally, a more or less continual sense of communion with God while at the same time being aware of all that is happening around us

15 The Dark Night of the Soul “dark night” is John’s term for the transition between stages of spiritual growth The ‘passive night of sense’ as we move beyond busy, conceptual prayers to contemplation The ‘passive night of spirit’ as we undergo radical purification to arrive at habitual experience of union

16 The Goal of the Journey Yet eventually, if we make it this far, we will be brought to a stable union or ‘spiritual marriage’ (the ‘unitive way’ of the perfect’) in which our whole human nature is harmoniously integrated, and we are able to enjoy a more or less continual awareness of the Trinity within while remaining attentive to creation around us, in a state that John

17 The Goal compares to that of Adam and Eve in paradise. This sublime participation in the inner life of the Trinity is what John identifies as the goal of the journey, to be experienced clearly and openly in the life to come.” Spiritual Traditions for the Contemporary Church (Maas & O’Donnell, Abingdon, 1990)

18 Implication Doubts, whether of self, of vision, of courage or adequacy, or of God need to be legitimized But they are not to be seen as the gateway to despair Rather, they are the open space for new thoughts, new strength, new vision, new encounter with the Living God


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