In which double esspresso might be good but double minded is not

by Craig on December 4, 2010

The big thing is that I shouldn’t be all asky for the wisdom, which I need to get through the trials, if I’m gonna be all doubty about it.

After three days hovering over the word “doubt” part 1, part 2, and part 3,  I remember there’s the whole rest of the Book of James to cover. So I dig back in, and, doh, I forgot – there’s a little more about doubt. So here I go.

First – context. We can’t be taking things out of context. Although I just spent three days writing about doubt, James isn’t really making a big deal of it. It’s just a sentence or two in a letter. His point being the whole James conundrum thing. Faith and doubt make a guest appearance.

James never addresses the subject of the validity of doubt all. He just tells us that it’s a tough way to go. Thanks – we know this already. A little more help help would have been nice. The only thing he’s gonna say, beside the whole doubt is the sea thing is this (1:7,8):

“For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord, since he is a man of two minds, unstable in all his ways.”

That’s just enough help to be dangerous. Give us humans verses like this and we’ll proceed to bash ourselves, and each other, all over our little collective heads with it.

Of course if we’re doubting we bob on the sea. But unstable today means – well – you know – unstable. A really bad thing. He’s just saying that doubt is not a firm starting point.And in context he’s really just saying don’t bother asking for wisdom if I have doubts, about either receiving it – or the method by which it may come.

It would be easier if we just believed. And that’s true. But he does not once say that a person with doubts is deficient in any way.

There’s something else important to remember when looking at these two verses.  I’m a person who know the struggles of doubt. The Book of James is inspired, but I’m not sure James knew about this kind of struggle. James seems to be a person who swam in faith.

I’m thinking he never doubted the existence of God. God was the God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob. It was in his bones. Everyone that he knew was a believer, and it was in their bones too. It was the culture in which they lived.

That’s not the place we live.

I think belief was just fact to James and I don’t think he would even get his hands around the idea that non-belief was an option. Everybody believed back then. There were no agnostics – there were no atheists – it was just a matter of which faith you had, not whether you had faith.

So what I’m saying is this. If I were a person who was struggling with doubt. I wouldn’t have looked up James, I would have run to Thomas, or Peter. Or maybe John, he seems nice. James the Just is awesome. But he’s not warm and fuzzy. It’s true, us people prone to doubt or spiritual amnesia can use a good swift kick sometimes. That I would go James for. But not this struggle.

And I see this is gonna take a couple of days too. Everyone, if you’re tired of this topic let me know. But here’s the plan as I see it. One more day on this. Then I’m thinking it’s time to come to the defense of my favorite apostle, Thomas. Then I think we’re done with doubt for a while and we’ll just sit back and let James yell at us for not being good enough.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Debbie December 4, 2010 at 2:26 am

I really appreciate how you explain some of the things that I don’t readily know . . .that unstable didn’t mean the same thing then as it does to us now. And how everyone had faith of some sort . . .that it was more inconceivable to doubt. Thinking a little about that . . .how strong is the Spirit’s work that we can still believe and have faith 2000 years later. And speaking of the Holy Spirit, I truly appreciate that you are following His lead here and taking as much time as He tells you to on each verse. I need these posts. I need to go deep into scripture because I am more simple. That’s okay, but you balance me out. Balance is good! Thank you . . .please keep right on writing!

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Craig December 4, 2010 at 9:27 am

And you aren’t simple – I’ve read you remember? You hit some very deep stuff in your writing. It surprises me all the time.Thank you deb – appreciate you much.

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Anonymuss December 4, 2010 at 10:27 pm

Craig, you have so much humor in your writing that I sometimes reread with separate objectives: once to read it seriously and once to enjoy the humor. Not always in that order because sometimes, like when Laska writes, there is so much humor I just take a break on the serious stuff and enjoy the humor first. NOW, that is NOT to say that the humor obscures the serious. the humor is a gift! so is the serious.

In this, your last sentence made me laugh because i so resonated with it by the time i had read and thought through what you wrote. keep writing what you feel led to write, because it is all good. you could also throw in a bit about doubt and confusion because i am not sure if i am confused about doubt, which i seriously might be, if it is both handmaiden to truth, and also kinda icky sometimes. i think it can be both-tho not likely at the same time. As handmaiden to truth, it is a kind of early warning system…letting us know all is not right in Denmark and we had better find out why not; and as ‘icky’, it is functioning as really wobbly spiritual knees. that’s my theological, shot-from-the-hips summary.

Also, I had never thought about (or knew) that back in those times, it was a matter of which god(s) to have faith in rather than whether there were any gods at all.

You can tell Laska that kreg is reely gud at finding vizualz, too!

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Craig December 4, 2010 at 10:57 pm

First – every time I read a comment by you I smile.
Second. your shoot from the hip theology is totally on the nose.
Third – doubt is at once a noble handmaiden AND an ichy monster
Fourth etc…
Thank you for the “visuals” thought – I spend almost as much time with those as I do with the words
And not yet have I written post without the doubt that what I write – nobody will want to read – don’t tell anyone I said that.
In the movie Jesus of Nazareth (from the 80’s) the best Jesus movie ever!!!! Thomas is written in as a servant of Jairus —- no wait – I’ll put it in a post – you are going to love it – I adore Thomas.

Merry Christmas A.

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Anonymuss December 4, 2010 at 11:28 pm

Craig, I don’t know if I have seen that movie. My favorite Jesus movie was one I saw a very long time ago-it may have been that one, I don’t know. At any rate, the movie is on my serious wish-list now. Thank you! And, I look forward to your Thomas post.

Merry Christmas to you, too, Craig.

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