Tim Challies blogged on boldness yesterday. Carla blogged on it today. I agree on the need for an appropriate boldness but I’m not always sure we’re talking about the same thing.
The emerging church is often accused of having more questions than answers. On the other hand, some are accused of going too far the other way:
Everyone I’ve ever met who claimed to have no doubts about the basic tenants of the Christianity has turned out to be dangerously imbalanced. The more people I meet, the more this is reinforced. I don’t want to be around people who have no doubts. I don’t even want a faith that takes my doubt away – that’s no faith at all.
Faith isn’t what keeps me from doubting. Faith is what holds onto me in the midst of my doubt.
What Challies calls “boldness,” I find, often has another name. When I find it in myself, most often it’s “hubris,” and I think the reason it’s missing from a lot of the stuff you hear from the Emergent side of the aisle is simple: over on this side, we recognize it as sin, at least in themselves. It can get even worse; when “boldness” is employed to brow-beat fellow believers who express honest doubts, it has another, darker name: “spiritual abuse.”
This all came up, of course, because McLaren talked about the four stages of faith on Saturday night. If I remember right, these stages come from his book Finding Faith, which I have not read.
I did leave this comment at Carla’s this morning with a couple of thoughts I’m processing. Carla was writing on some passages in Hebrews which talk about approaching God with boldness and having assurance of faith. Here’s what I commented:
I think that passage isn’t primarily about boldness about our belief system, but boldness in approaching God through Christ.
I am thinking about this whole topic because I think there is an appropriate type of boldness and many today are losing their nerve. But I would qualify it in two ways:
1) The most important thing about our faith is not how much faith we have but the object of our faith. Jesus said our faith can be as small as a mustard seed, but that wasn’t as important as the object of that faith (which is Jesus). My confidence is not in how much I believe, but in the fact that Christ is trustworthy.
2) If we believe in sola scriptura, then we need to always submit our belief systems to Scripture. Not to say we should abandon our belief systems but our confidence is not in them. Our confidence is ultimately in Christ as revealed in His Word.
Hope that makes sense. I want everyone to have an appropriate assurance and boldness, but I’m not sure we’re always talking about the same thing.
As always, you’re appreciated.
An appropriate confidence, I believe, neither wallows in ignorance nor pretends to have all the answers. It certainly isn’t a confidence in our own belief system. It makes room for appropriate doubt, which is a sign that we are taking God seriously. It’s primarily confidence in God as revealed in Scripture. That’s the type of boldness and confidence that I wish for all of us.