Over the past few years, I have found myself struggling on my faith journey. Various forces in my life have combined to have me feeling grave uncertainty in many aspects of my faith. I once felt a certainty about my beliefs that I find that I do not feel now.
I have strongly felt the struggle between my inner doubts and fears and my faith and the dissonance that I have felt between my faith in the world. I grew up believing that even questioning my faith was a sin, and I felt as if I was the worst person ever for having these doubts.
So, I found the best way to stare at my doubts head-on and bring myself some comfort and clarity was to turn to books. I have read biographies and memoirs about the spiritual journey. I have read conversion stories, deconversion stories and apologetics. More than anything, I wanted to know that it was okay to have questions.
This spring, one of the sources of comfort that I found was in Peter Enns’ book The Sin of Certainty. Peter Enns opens up and shares more about his own struggles with faith in this book, explaining that he almost lost his faith because he was guilty of places in faith in facts he knew about God rather than in the person of God. This is something that I have found is part of my struggle, and part of the reason why I think I have had an ongoing battle for my faith.
Instead, one of the tools that Enns feels that we have in our faith is the very dissonance we have between our beliefs about God and our experiences. He calls them “uh-oh moments.” As Enns says,
Uh-oh moments serve a holy purpose–at least they have for me. They help break down the religious systems we create for ourselves that sooner or later block us from questioning, wondering, and, therefore, from growing.
While correct doctrine is important, doubts do not make you less faithful to God. They are not a reason to abandon faith. Instead, these doubts or moments of dissonance provide an opportunity for us to reflect on how much of our religious beliefs are based on what we can intellectually affirm and what is truly a part of our faith. We may find that many of the things that we think are essentials to our faith are actually simply based on man-made theologies and fallible interpretations.