I apologize

July 12, 2010


Rachel Held Evans, author of “Evolving in Monkey Town”, was interviewed on WMUZ’s Bob Dutko Show.  Dutko bills himself as a “
a leading voice today “in the fearless defense of Christian truth, using logic, reason, science, history and factual evidence to disarm the critics and equip believers”.  In fact, he’s featured in Modern Disciple (a web magazine) with boxing gloves hanging around his neck and the words “Fearlessly Defending the Faith” emblazoned across the picture.  Two things wrong with that from my viewpoint.  First the boxing gloves are nice touch when you’re talking about a religion founded by a pacifist.  Second, why the hell does the “Faith” need defending?  If it’s the word of God like we believe and God is all-powerful (again, like we believe), why does he need us to defend it?  What the heck are we going to do in that defense that He can’t?  I’ve haven’t been comfortable with the militaristic touches applied to the Christian faith for a long time.  Things like “spiritual warfare” and “defender of the faith” sound just a little too Crusaderish for me.  Jesus told us to turn the other cheek when attacked, apologetics doesn’t seem to fit with that.

One the issues I have with the whole “defense of the faith” idea is that to defend the faith against all comers requires a level of certainty that I don’t think is really compatible with the concept of “faith”.  The most common definition of faith that I can find  is that it’s a belief or trust in something or someone without proof.  Christianity certainly fits the bill there, doesn’t it.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t have any real proof that what I believe is right, good and true outside the tenets of my faith.  It’s kind of a specious argument to use the Bible to prove that something in the Bible is true.  It’s certainly not a good argument.  It’s pretty hard to prove something when you have no evidence outside of how you feel.

Apologists seem to be possessed of much greater degree of certainty than I am.  Like I said earlier, faith is believing without proof and I can’t be that certain without some concrete evidence.  So I doubt.  I wonder if I’m doing the right thing or if I wasting my time.  I wonder if there really is a God or if we’re worshipping a flying spaghetti monster.  On good days, I can accept everything my faith hands me; on the bad ones…, not so much.  I used to worry about this.  Then, I read a quote from theologian Paul Tillich, “Doubt is not the opposite of faith, it is an element of faith”.   According to Tillich, I’m in good shape.  As he’s one of those folks more learned than I, I’ll take his word for it. 

I’ll give Dutko credit, though.  Reading all the stuff about him on his station’s website, I expected him to blast Rachel right from the start.  I was ready for him to lay into her for having the temerity to doubt God’s Word and talk about how she’ was damaging other people’s faith by opening up about her doubts.  But, he didn’t.  I haven’t listened to the entire interview yet, but he was very gracious, admitting to doubts of his own.  While that’s nice, I’m still not a fan of apologetics.  I’m not convinced that they’re needed.  I’m also of the opinion that what we see as impassioned defense of our beliefs is seen by those outside the church as arrogance, pride and intolerance.  And, that runs contrary to everything we’re supposed to be about.  I’m not defending the faith anymore.  I’m living it out the way Jesus showed us while he was here.

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One Response to “I apologize”

  1. Paul said

    I find I couldn’t agree with you more. People that refuse to make room for doubt in their faith terrify me. We’d be in better shape if we (meaning Christians, specifically I suppose) would realize that having both belief and doubt is not a contradiction, but a tension between two sides of the same coin.

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