Above all, this blog is my attempt to try out writing. I’m not really a trained writer, so working out this blog will take experimentation and variation as it goes on. Even so, I have at least four specific goals that I hope to achieve with this blog:
1. Connect theology to real-life faith
I’ve found that exploring theology, including academic theology, is crucial to my faith. If I wasn’t allowed to think critically and creatively about my beliefs, I probably would’ve given up on trying to be a Christian a long time ago. Exploring, deconstructing, and reconstructing beliefs (AKA “doing” theology) can enrich a life of faith, challenging us to love our God and our neighbors more thoughtfully and effectively.
Yet so much of what is categorized as “theology” seems to be disconnected from the actual, real-life faith of the many Christians who don’t have PhD’s in religion. Sometimes, so-called theology is simply a matter of learning in more detail what you and everyone you go to church with already believe. But in my experience, being spoon- or force-fed beliefs is a waste of time at best or a recipe for pretentious, puffed-up Belief Police at worst.
I am convinced that the apparent chasm between actual faith and critical theological reflection threatens to undermine not only authentic theology, but (at least for doubters) authentic faith as well. I hope that through this blog, other Christians might discover how to more effectively and deeply engage their faith and doubt using the resources of theology. I will try my best to keep this blog from floating too far into the clouds of abstraction. This will require more storytelling and auto-biography than standard theological writing.
2. Create a resource for confused Christians
This is obviously a blog for Christians with doubts, but it is also a blog for Christians with confusion, even (or especially!) the scary kind of confusion.
A few years ago, critical faith-related questions that had been politely asking for my attention for years staged a mutiny, dragging my mind into chaos. During that first year of doubt, I struggled to put words to my questions. As I began searching for answers in my local faith community and on the internet (I’m such a millennial, aren’t I?), I was shocked at how utterly unhelpful everyone seemed to be.
Eventually, I found the help I needed by exploring academic theology, biblical scholarship, and philosophy, but learning my way around those fields without a guide or relevant degree took lots of time and effort. (I majored in Engineering.) In many ways, this blog is an attempt to write what I wish I had discovered back when I first started drowning in doubt. I hope to take the helpful ideas I’ve found in the books of scholars and to explain their relevance to faith today without relying on off-putting academic language.
I can’t answer anybody’s big, personal faith-related questions for them. Your questions are your own, and so are your answers. But I hope that by living in between academic theology and day-to-day faith-in-action, I can help other Christians whose faith is being ripped to shreds by doubt to, if nothing else, at least feel less crazy and alone in their doubt.
3. Share my current answers
I’ve found that faith and doubt can coexist without one suppressing the other. But they cannot coexist without hard work. A peaceful relationship between faith and doubt is like a close friendship between two strong-willed people: it requires mutual listening, uncomfortable conversations, and frequent re-evaluation of the relationship.
Practically, this means that I have to give my doubt the freedom to produce specific questions – questions ranging from “How should I interpret the Bible passage I’m reading right now?” to “Does God exist?” and everywhere in between. For me, dealing with these questions means doing research and finding out what other people have to say about them. I can’t skip from question to answer without the messy and uncertain journey in between.
Nor can I live forever with the same nagging, unanswered questions. I can’t keep my doubt permanently on hold as I go about living out my faith, but I can’t keep my faith permanently on hold as I go about pursuing my questions. When my beliefs are appropriately tethered to my lived faith, I cannot help but eventually stumble upon answers that are good enough, even if they’re only good enough for now.
On this blog, I will explore my questions, explaining where they came from, why they matter to me, and why the answers that first came to my mind didn’t satisfy my inner skeptic. But this blog will not be purely negative or deconstructive; it will also be creative and reconstructive. I will explore how and why many of the questions that weighed heavily on my mind as recently as a few month ago have been resolved sufficiently enough to allow me to move on to different questions. This will include sharing some of my own semi-original ideas that I formed while exploring the work of professional thinkers, especially theologians, philosophers, and biblical scholars.
4. Create lots of Buzzfeed-esque lists, just like this post
(Don’t worry; I’m joking.)