Jon Kennedy
Jon Kennedy

Jon Kennedy's 'Postcards from
the Nanty Glo in My Mind'

Doubt and logic

I've been thinking for years about the relationship between doubt and belief in the Christian life. As the Pope said in the passage quoted on Wednesday, and as the Gospel says the father of a child possessed by a "foul spirit" confesses to Jesus, "Lord, I believe; help thou my unbelief" (Mark 9:24), when we believe we still have nagging doubts, and when we doubt most of us—at least those of us who have cared enough for our spiritual lives to be inquiring into these questions—even when we doubt, we find ourselves being pursued toward faith by "the Hound of Heaven" (as the poet Francis Thompson puts it). I may have mentioned here several years ago a conversation I had with a one-time friend who was an atheist: She told me she "just couldn't believe," to which I replied, "and I just can't not believe." Not that I've wanted to doubt, but there have been times when the Hound seemed to have lost my track, but it was never been for long.

I think that if I said "it's hard to believe" it would put many reading that "confession of doubt" into a funk, at least momentarily. How true, they'd say to themselves, and start wondering if they can really believe something as wonderful as the Gospel of life's victory over death through the resurrection of Jesus the Christ. But if I said, "let's sing a couple of verses of 'He Lives!'" most who know the hymn would feel an immediate boost. That's what we've been talking about.

Or if we turned to the Psalms and found one that speaks directly to this doubt => believing tension like Psalm 3:

LORD, how are they increased who trouble me!
Many are they who rise up against me.
Many are they who say of my soul, "There is no help for him in God." Selah.
But thou, O LORD, are a shield for me;
my glory, and the lifter up of my head.

I cried to the LORD with my voice,
and he heard me out of his holy hill. Selah.
I laid me down and slept; I awoke; for the LORD sustained me.
I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people
who have set themselves against me round about.

Arise, O LORD; save me, O my God:
for thou have smitten all my enemies on the cheek bone;
thou have broken the teeth of the ungodly.
Salvation belongs to the LORD: thy blessing is upon thy people.

we find our spirits rising to take flight.

Several weeks ago I mentioned here a clique of fundamentalist critics of C. S. Lewis who questioned the salvation of that great defender of the faith. One of the charges they laid against arguably the greatest lay evangelist of the Twentieth Century was that he "seemed to say logic is a way to salvation." Apparently they forgot Psalm 8:3-9, which makes the same claim: sometimes believing is simple logic...

When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have ordained;
What is man, that you are mindful of him?
and the son of man, that you have visited him?
For you have made him a little lower than the angels,
and have crowned him with glory and honour.

You made him to have dominion over the works of your hands;
you have put all things under his feet:
All sheep and oxen, yes, and the beasts of the field;
The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea,
and whatever passes through the paths of the seas.
O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!

Sometimes it's hard not to doubt that the grave is the end it all, as the Rev. Donna Schaper with her liberal gospel wants us to do. But when we look at the heavens and the glory of creation, simple logic tells us, this is not one big coincidence. And our very hearts proclaim, "O LORD our Lord, how excellent is your name in all the earth! who have set your glory above the heavens."

Webmaster Jon Kennedy


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