Friday, January 29, 2010

Doubt and the journey

Scot McKnight had a great post where he responded to someone who was experiencing doubts. The post is here.

This post really speaks to me. I would say I'm going through such a stage of deconstruction and doubt. It was initiated by a lot of things, but mainly personal experiences, self study, and dialog with trusted friends/mentors. In the book Made to Stick, the authors talk about the "curse of knowledge". What they mean is that once we truly learn something, we can not really unlearn it, nor can we remember how we thought on that topic before we learned the new thing. An example for me is the Bible.

Having studied topics around textual, historical, and social criticism surrounding the Bible, as well as interpretive theories, it is difficult for me to read the Bible “pre-critically” anymore. Will that change? Maybe, but for now, this is where I’m at. I am no longer satisfied with surface readings of a text (and this is all texts, not just the Bible). I also see life more holistically and inter-disciplinary. Meaning, I see value in some of the theories of Jungian psychology for human development and spiritual formation. I see value in what sociology teaches us about cultural formation. I see value in postmodern philosophical understandings of epistemology and truth, and what that can teach us about how we know and learn spiritual things. I see value in the mystics approach to non-dual thinking. I guess what I’m saying is that I no longer see the Bible as the final arbiter of truth on all matters pertaining to life.

This has caused friction amongst those who, unlike me, do not wish to question things to a deeper degree. I’m not at all saying one way is better than another, but I am saying that there is a difference in approaches that can cause friction. What I've learned from relational psychology and spiritual formation studies is that I can no longer deny how i'm "wired", and to say that deep thinking is wrong (and I should just be like everyone else) would be to deny who I am. The friction can be beneficial, but at this stage of things, it causes more internal conflict in me than it does positive growth. I can attribute that to what McKnight talks about in the post referenced above, i.e. deconstruction/reconstruction.

I would say I’m still immersed in the deconstruction phase; questioning assumptions, re-evaluating my spiritual life, etc. I might say that I have a small glimpse of what the reconstructed faith could look like, but as of yet, nothing tangible. The lack of clarity and tangibility appears to some to be selfishness, uncertainty, indecisiveness, etc. Understood, but nothing I can do to change that at this point. It’s a tension of uncertainty and freedom that I have never felt before, but I could never go back to the place I’ve deconstructed.