Do you love your faith so little that you have never battled a single fear lest your faith should not be true? Where there are no doubts, no questions, no perplexities, there can be no growth.
– George MacDonald
In my spiritual memoir, Water To Wine, part of the story I tell involves my own journey away from cheap certitude toward an authentic faith. It is a phenomenon of modernity that certitude (mental assent toward something as an absolute empirical fact) has become confused with faith (an orientation of the soul toward God in the form of deep trust).
That this phenomenon is prevalent among certain streams of Christians is strangely ironic since this involves genuflecting at the altar of empiricism and privileging knowledge over faith. Privileging empiricism above faith as the final arbiter of truth is a hallmark of modernity, but it is also antithetical to Christianity.
Certitude is a poor substitute for authentic faith. But certitude is popular; it’s popular because it’s easy. No wrestling with doubt, no dark night of the soul, no costly agonizing over the matter, no testing yourself with hard questions. Just accept a secondhand assumption or a majority opinion or a popular sentiment as the final word and settle into certainty.
Certitude is easy…until it’s impossible. And, that’s why certitude is so often a disaster waiting to happen. The empty slogan “the Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it” is cheap certitude, not genuine faith.Read More »