A Global Congress
“Tell me,” Martin Luther asked an elderly woman who was troubled by doubt, “when you recite the creeds, do you believe them?” “Yes, most certainly,” she replied. “Then go in peace,” the Reformer said. “You believe more and better than I do.”
In 1930 C. S. Lewis wrote in a letter to a close friend: “I think the trouble with me is lack of faith. I have no rational ground for going back on the arguments that convinced me of God’s existence: but the irrational deadweight of my old skeptical habits, and the spirit of this age, and the cares of the day, steal away all my lively feeling of the truth, and often when I pray I wonder if I am not posting letters to a non-existent address. Mind you I don’t think so—the whole of my reasonable mind is convinced: but I often feel so. However, there is nothing to do but to peg away.”
Though Catherine Mumford read her Bible daily, attended worship services, and poured her energy into religious activities, she had neither inner peace nor assurance of salvation. For a while she went to bed with her Bible and hymnbook under her pillow, praying that she would awaken in the morning with genuine confidence in her salvation. One morning in 1845, at age 16, she awoke, opened her hymnal, and read Charles Wesley’s hymn: My God, I am thine! What a comfort divine! What a blessing to know that my Jesus is mine! At that moment Wesley’s words became truth for her life, as well. In 1878, Catherine and her husband, William Booth, founded the Salvation Army.
Faith and doubt. Can they—or should they—coexist?
This magazine might well give you some answers, or at least set you on a journey to find them. Read the interview with Dr. Roger Lundin ’71, Blanchard Professor of English, about his book Believing Again: Doubt and Faith in a Secular Age. And turn to page 64 for President Ryken’s perspective on the topic.
Many of us, believers saved by His grace, might at times question the existence of God, or yearn for assurance of salvation, or struggle with how a loving God can allow suffering, or wonder why God didn’t come up with a better plan than to require the Blood of His Son to save us, or ask many other questions for which there seemingly are no answers.
“Disciples are not people who never doubt,” writes pastor and author John Ortberg ’79. “They doubt and worship. They doubt and serve. They doubt and help each other with their doubts. They doubt and practice faithfulness. They doubt and wait for their doubt one day to be turned to knowing.”
Some “knowing” may come in this life. Some in the life to come. But I suspect that in heaven we will meet thousands upon thousands who were touched by the faithfulness of Martin Luther, C. S. Lewis, Catherine Booth, and many more doubting disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Georgia I. Douglass '70, M.A. '94
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