Faith Amid Doubt

We mortals typically act in faith despite our doubt, not because we have no doubt. If we doubted less, perhaps we would need less faith.

The man that feareth, Lord, to doubt,

In that fear doubteth thee.

George MacDonald, The Disciple, 1867

Perfect love casteth out fear,” John wrote (1 John 4:18; see also Moroni 8:16). Perhaps we might also say, “Perfect faith casteth out doubt.”

I accept the truth of John’s statement about perfect love. I think my made-up version about perfect faith is probably true as well. But to date I have found neither perfect love nor perfect faith in myself. Maybe there have been a few exceptional moments of fleeting near-perfection scattered through the decades of my life, but I wouldn’t bet money on it. Yet I have some faith, and I do love — amid my doubts and fears.

You and I live our lives in imperfect love and imperfect faith. We hope both virtues are maturing in us, but perfection is a distant goal, and our progress depends utterly on abundant grace from a Source outside ourselves.

Meanwhile, remember that “grain of mustard seed”? (See Matthew 17:20.) Our faith doesn’t have to be perfect to be real. A small amount, amid our doubts, can be enough for today.

A Brief Personal Declaration

My aim at Bendable Light, when I write about faith and religion, is not to proselyte. It is to explore and explain — and sometimes that may mean to defend.

My convictions are real, and they inform much of what is and will be written here. However, they do not stop me from probing my own faith for meaning, connections, and implications. Rather the opposite. If I recognize something as truth, I am far more motivated to explore it, understand it, and test its applications and limitations.

Some people act differently in these matters, I know. When they embrace a truth, they prefer to protect it from scrutiny, at least in their own minds. But I think truth is more robust than that.

You may choose belief, doubt, skepticism, or diametrically opposite convictions from mine. Still we may find some value in our discussions, despite — perhaps even because of — our differences.