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Honest Question: Can anyone ever be really, really-really, totally, absolutely sure of anything? Really-really-really totally sure, i mean?

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11 Comments

  1. No.
    And I state that with utter and complete certainty that will brook no appeal.

  2. ah, i see you two have played this game before. So it seems that we are all entirely sure that it is not possible to be entirely sure of anything. Good. That being the case… how sure is sure enough?

  3. Or, as Steve Turner put it:

    There is no truth,
    No,
    Not even this.

    As ever, the answer depends almost-entirely on the circumstances and lies between the general ‘level 3’ not knowing anything dithering and the ‘level 1’ blind certainty. Has that answered your question?

    Are you sure?

  4. Also,
    “This statement is false.”

  5. That’s not nice, Timbo – Friends don’t try to make friends’ heads explode by posting paradoxical statements.

    OK, in terms of faith in God, how sure is sure enough? And at what point (if any) is it acceptable to say “I don’t feel God has revealed his existence to me sufficiently for me to feel ‘sure’ that he exists”?

  6. Even in terms of ‘God’ there’s a whole lot of ‘depending on the circumstances’ going on.

    Thomas was lucky, after his big “there’s not been enough revelation for my liking” speech, he had his doubts quashed to such an extent that he makes the most extreme statement about Jesus recorded in any of the gospels, “my God and my king!”

    For most of us though, it’s somewhat less dramatic than that and our varying not-sure-nesses will be as widely different as we are different as people.

    In any case, not being sure is a whole lot more acceptable than saying “because I can’t be sure, then there can’t possibly be a god.”

  7. Yeah, there’s a reason that Thomas is the patron saint of Architects. Its difficult, because i really want to be part of a community, and be involved with a group of people who genuinely care about each other and the world, and who care about meaning and purpose and social justice and their neighbours, and i really want to do something useful and valuable with my life… and i know that this is what church is meant to be: That if God really is out there (in here?) and actually both:

    a)gives a shit, and
    b) has a plan,

    then church community is God’s provision for the God-given longing that i feel in my heart. But the level of doubt and frustration that i live with in relation to faith seems to disqualify me from this kind of community – or at least from authentically belonging to any kind of organised community that i know of. And that in turn is both disillusioning and frustrating. Who can save me from this wretched man that i am, eh? And why hasn’t he done it, already?

    I’ll stop whinging now.

  8. Well, two words spring to mind, and be advised that I don’t use them lightly:
    bull-fucking-shit.

    I’m entirely with your argument up to ‘…longing that I feel in my heart.’ After that, it goes downhill fast.

    Just because the church as a whole generally fails to own up to (and to own those who do) those kinds of doubt and ‘failures of faith’ it doesn’t mean that it (or those concerned are right). By extracting yourself from the one community that you cede will give you the best chance of some sort of fulfilment because of some arbitrary (and indeed imaginary) rules held to by some members of it you put yourself on an immediate hiding to nothing.

    It’s the behaviour of the ‘church’ for want of a better word that is frustrating (I’m all for disillusionment – for the very cheesy reason that illusions tend to get in the way of perceiving the reality and, whilst the dreams may be much more comfortable, I do believe that facing the truth is betterer) as is your buying into the ‘rules of authenticness’.

    To be an authentic member of a community like the one you describe, if they are truly trying to follow the master, all that is required is your presence and willingness to be yourself – open and vulnerable and willing to attempt to find God in the midst of their shared and broken humanity.

    I truly believe that Jesus is the answer, I believe that he is in the process of saving you and that it’s about damned time you stopped whinging.

    With lots of love,
    A fellow whinger.

    PS good grief! This is almost Linusesque in its comment-lengthness

  9. That’s quite clearly three words, Timmy. But your cunning use of Charlie Brown’s catchphrase redeems you. Thanks for your comment, my good friend =] It has helped me to see the potential for misunderstanding inherent in what i have written above.

    I’d argue that the key word in my previous comment is “seems” – i wasn’t so much trying to say that i *was* excluded from being part of a church (or all church) community, more that i *feel* excluded, or at least on the edge (not able to feel – again *feel* – like i fully belong). Indeed, my assertion that i was whinging was an attempt to acknowledge that i was expressing angst about how i felt, rather than stating some sort of objective truth: What i said was meant to be an outpouring of how i felt, not a critique of the (or a) church.

    I’m sorry for the confusion. Ironically, being open and vulnerable was what i thought i was doing by being prepared to “whinge” in public, rather than bottling up how i felt and not expressing it. I know you’ve listened patiently to my whinging on many occasions and i’m grateful for that and for what you’ve said above, much of which i agree with.

    You seem more clear on the kind of community i am searching for right now than i am! What you describe is certainly very attractive to me right now. I guess what i am looking for, given all that i have written above, is a community that expresses belief and yet welcomes and includes, involves and gives opportunity to those who don’t, or maybe might, believe. That way i can work out my heart and hopes in an environment that honours God, without feeling constantly like i am having to pretend to be sure of things i’m not sure of (like God, for starters.) I might add that i have found this kind of community informally in my friendship with you and others and am very grateful for this blessing. Whilst i am grateful to have these friendships to invest in, i do still feel somewhat cut adrift for the most part right now (which is my own fault more than anyone else’s, i freely admit), and i am obviously lacking the benefit that more experience of structured and regular and corporate community can bring.

    On being myself and authenticity… I think communities that constantly sing songs that express certainty, sign up to lengthy and definite statements of faith, react as if you’ve slapped them in the face if you question whatever doctrine is non-negotiable for them and tend to treat you like the audience rather than a fellow worker or a brother in need… far from requiring my willingness to be myself, these communities seem to require my willingness to act like someone other than the person i am. And that is when i feel like i have a choice between being inauthentic (ie not expressing where i’m really at or how i really feel), or disengaging with communities i care about and long to truly belong to.

    In the past i have tried to walk a tightrope between the two and ended up feeling that i neither belong nor am i really acting with integrity – ie i’m not honest about what i really think. Thus there is no safe environment for dealing with the messiness of my thoughts and feelings and struggles (because i don’t feel – *feel* – i’m really accepted and i don’t feel i can really be honest about the messiness of my life, or the ways in which i struggle with where the community as a whole seems to be at). In turn, it is difficult to fully commit to a community that you feel doesn’t understand or truly accept you or offer you a safe place to work through stuff, and so – rightly or wrongly – i haven’t always been head over heels passionately wholeheartedly invested in the communities i have been part of, and i haven’t always felt that i could contribute anything genuine that would be accepted. Doubt all round, basically; paralysing, frustrating doubt. I think i’ve struggled even more to believe wholeheartedly in the communities i’ve been part of than i have to believe in the God they belong to.

    So, for a while at least, i have stopped. Because dealing with all that shit was (and still is, to an extent) running interference on the available time, emotional energy and mental capacity i have to try and make any actual meaningful progress towards living a more useful, functional, generous, beautiful life. Which, surely, is what God’s people are meant to be busy helping one another to do. Sigh. I expect expressing all this is part of the process by which i prepare myself to join in with more formal community again at some point; at least that’s one possibility. In the meantime, thank you Timmy for caring and for continuing to relate to me.

    God bless =]

    ps – now *that’s* a Linus-length comment. Thanks for taking the time to read it.

  10. You’re right, it is very long and rambly but your thanks are premature – I skipped straight to the end.

    Seriously though, it’ll take a bit of digesting – I’ll come up with some kind of response in the next couple of days and use it as an actual, honest to God, blog entry of my own.


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