You cannot be a man of faith unless you know how to doubt. You cannot believe in God unless you are capable of questioning the authority of prejudice, even though that prejudice may seem to be religious. Faith is not blind conformity to prejudice – “ a pre-judgment.” It is a decision, a judgment that is fully and deliberately taken in the light of a truth that cannot be proven. It is not merely the acceptance of a decision that has been made by somebody else.
Merton has a fascinating premise when he says,”You cannot be a man of faith unless you know how to doubt.” Most of us have been brought up to think very differently, and that statement will require some thinking. Doubt is a bad word in most church cultures. Church people are taught to believe and leave the rest to God. If we are to accept doubt as an essential part of faith, then there are some things we need to consider.
We must first question the prejudice of following stagnate authority. Merton calls it the authority of prejudice. Things never change and ,quite honestly, that makes it easy. This authority assumes that we will walk in lock step with tradition, no matter how strange or harsh it may seem. We are trained to accept the thinking that comes from the authority, because it is just what we do. Why rock the boat?
Boat rocking begins with thinking for yourself. Maybe, just maybe, things have changed. That rule or practice was designed for people who used a horse and buggy to get around town. Perhaps that practice was started out of the prejudicial thinking of someone who never really learned to think for themselves. If we are to be independent thinkers, we must be people of prayer and study.
Prayer is simply talking to God and waiting for an answer. All of us need to develop a prayer life that will make us feel like God is listening to us and is concerned about our lives. The longer we know someone, and the more we talk with them, the more comfortable we will be. We are comfortable because we know and understand them. This concept is no different when it it comes to our relationship with God.
There still remains a rough spot. No matter how well you know someone there will always be things you do not know or understand. God is God, and we can never understand everything about him. God’s existence is a fact that cannot be proven. We can try, but we will always fail. He ,therefore, remains a mystery. It is in the acceptance of that mystery that true faith begins. When we get to know God and accept the ambiguity of his actions and existence then true faith begins to flourish in our souls.
Lord, Give me the courage to examine the cookie cutter answers that I was taught about you. Give me the determination to begin to know you for myself. Give me the wisdom to ask the hard questions that will refine my faith. Give me the drive to move forward in the mystery of being a person of faith.Give me the strength to move forward this and every day as a seeker of truth.