Anna Githens
Why Christians shouldn't doubt their faith
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By Anna Githens
February 20, 2015

President Obama caused a firestorm after several controversial comments he made at the National Prayer Breakfast. I was not surprised with his remarks about the Crusades and the Inquisition, as he unfortunately shares the erroneous viewpoint of most post-Enlightenment liberal thinkers. (For the true history of the Crusades and Inquisition please click the respective hyperlinks). More astonishing to me were the many demeaning comments he made to the predominantly Christian audience. Shortly after lecturing them about getting on their "high horse" and terrible deeds committed "in the name of Christ," he said the following:
    "I believe that the starting point of faith is some doubt – not being so full of yourself and so confident that you are right and that God speaks only to us, and doesn't speak to others, that God only cares about us and doesn't care about others, that somehow we alone are in possession of the truth."
It seems instilling doubt in America's faithful majority is one of President Obama's objectives. More than once he has told us "we are no longer a Christian nation" and has criticized various Biblical passages.

Even more audacious was the timing of his delivery. Just days after a man was burned alive in a cage by ISIS terrorists our Commander in Chief attempted to deflect attention onto events that occurred several hundred years ago – Christians defending themselves against atrocities similar to what we are witnessing today.

I might not have had a problem with some of his comments had the President been speaking to ISIS militants in Iraq or Syria, but he wasn't. He was addressing Americans, at a prayer breakfast no less. It seems time and again he uses harsher rhetoric speaking about Christians rather than terrorists. Anyone aware of the many current barbaric acts of terrorism should know precisely which religious groups are demonstrating intolerance for other faiths. However, according to the President, if we call it radical Islam we are being overconfident and think we are right. Moreover, we think we are in "possession of the truth." In other words, there is no right or wrong because no one possesses the truth. Everyone of faith is guilty of wrongdoing; therefore the atrocities we are witnessing shouldn't influence our decision-making.

Yet, who would you say are so full of themselves and overconfident? The persecutors or the persecuted? The ones holding the knife or the ones being beheaded?

Perhaps President Obama sees religion as a threat to his centralized power of government, so he is attempting to plant seeds of doubt in our minds toward our Christian faith and our Judeo-Christian heritage. Rather than doubt his own ideology, he wants us to doubt our faith since evidently the two cannot coexist. In order to fundamentally transform a country, one needs for its citizens to first question their beliefs and traditions. Thus, it seems conceivable that the alluding to doubt is done by design.

While a great way to begin one's faith journey is by asking questions, we should not linger in doubt. Doubt compels us to seek answers; questions lead to answers. And many of us sit in prayerful silence waiting to hear that still small voice. The one that says "this is the way, walk in it." That is, the voice of the Holy Spirit.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that there are two kinds of doubt, voluntary and involuntary. Voluntary doubt refers to those who refuse to accept as true what God has revealed and the Church proposes for belief. Involuntary doubt refers to hesitation in, or difficulty with, believing or overcoming objections connected with the faith. Either way, it states that if deliberately cultivated, doubt can lead to spiritual blindness (CCC 2088).

St. Paul tells us, "We walk by faith, not by sight" (2 Cor 5:7). If we are to walk by faith, we are to live our faith. Anyone sense any doubt here? If we lived in doubt, our lives would be formless, unidentifiable, uncertain, and meaningless. Who exactly are we, the blind leading the blind, or the land of the free and the home of the brave?

St. Paul also said, "Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own" (1 Cor 6:19). The Jewish Biblical view also attests to the fact that "all creatures live only through the spirit given by God."

There is truth. It exists. People have faith because they believe it's true. Faith and doubt are contradictory terms. The fact that many in the world hold terribly misguided views of faith does not negate the authenticity of the One True Spirit who is of God. For there is One True God and each one of us should personally endeavor to know Him. We alone are not in possession of the truth, no, but His Spirit is. It exists. And it is true.

As Pope Emeritus Benedict explains, "To be sure, we do not possess the truth, the truth possesses us: Christ, who is truth, has taken us by the hand, and we know that his hand is holding us securely on the path of our quest for knowledge."

Throughout our faith journeys we question some truths and principles, as did the Apostles, because we have limited capacity for understanding. Yet, this is meant to be a temporary condition. For in the end, the Apostles were unwavering in their beliefs. All but one died martyrs for their faith.

However, our president makes it sound as though we should persist in doubt; that we should accept this as a permanent condition – as if remaining skeptical is the norm. Skepticism doesn't offend anyone. And nowadays many seem more concerned with offending terrorists than offending God.

Doubt, like guilt, brings unrest to the human spirit. We seek answers to resolve doubt; we repent of our sins to unburden ourselves of guilt. And through it all, faith and prayer sustain us. Moreover, doubt is not an end in itself; rather, it is the means to achieving an end. It is a vehicle one uses to reach one's objective, which is faith. And "Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen" (Heb 11:1).

When we are confident about our Christian faith we should not be made to feel badly about it. Assurance is not arrogance, and certainty is not conceit. Assurance means we stand convicted; ready to defend and uphold all that we are certain is true. This does not mean we are intolerant of others. The more we are convinced of our faith in Jesus Christ, the more we will become like Him. And Jesus was kind and merciful.

"You will know the truth," declared Jesus, "and the truth will set you free" (Jn 8:32). At one time, America proudly stood for all that is good, true and beautiful, as a shining city upon a hill and a beacon of light for the world. Never had there been more graces bestowed upon us than when our country was rooted in faith and trusted God. Never has a group of people in the history of civilization accomplished more or been more charitable. Thanks to the intrusion of secularism and its empty promises of utopia, we have fallen greatly in the last 50 years.

President Obama also said that we should have some humility and admit that we're confused and don't always know what we're doing. Again, was this advice directed to terrorists? No, he was advising Americans at the National Prayer Breakfast, right after declaring that Christians have been on their high horse. Ironically, the man who is engaged in a lawsuit with The Little Sisters of the Poor is giving us all a lesson in humility.

What other Commander in Chief in America's history has advised people to doubt themselves and their faith? It is apparent that our president is plagued with confusion and doubt, which is why it's so difficult for him to make decisions and lead this country. He wants America to become a nation of skeptics – America that was once held together by her convictions and principles, united in faith as One Nation under God. It is clear that his promise to fundamentally transform America includes attacking our roots.

The most accomplished people who ever lived were not burdened by doubt and indecision; they were emboldened by conviction and faith. Our greatest leaders, beginning with our Founding Fathers, were able to eradicate any semblance of doubt through prayer and God's Word:

George Washington:
    "It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and Bible. Make sure you are doing what God wants you to do – then do it with all your strength."
Thomas Jefferson:
    "God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the gift of God?"
Abraham Lincoln:
    "For I know the Lord is always on the side of right; but God is my witness that it is my constant anxiety and prayer that both myself and this nation should be on the Lord's side."
Martin Luther King, Jr.:
    "Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase."
Jesus often admonished his Apostles when they demonstrated a lack of faith. When the Apostle Thomas doubted His resurrection, Jesus rebuked him, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe." (Jn 20:27) When Peter was afraid as he walked toward Him on the water, "Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, 'You of little faith why did you doubt?' And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him and said, "Truly you are the Son of God" (Matt 14:31).

After persecuting Christians, St. Paul, upon his conversion, put in writing his conviction of the truth, "For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom 8:38-39).

Did the martyrs and saints doubt their faith? No, they sacrificed their lives for it. To consider just a few:

St. Lawrence [ca. 225-258]: A deacon of the early church, witnessed to his strong Christian faith when to the Roman Prefect, who was roasting him on a gridiron, he suggested, "Turn me over, I'm done on this side."

St. Augustine [354-430]: One of the greatest philosopher-theologians the world has known, harmonized faith and intellect, and left us this precious advice about faith: "Seek not to understand that you may believe, but believe so that you may understand."

St. Thomas More [1478-1535]: A scholar, author of "Utopia" and one time Lord Chancellor of the English realm, immortalized in "A Man For All Seasons," in uncompromising fidelity to his faith, on the scaffold's threshold declared: "I die the King's good servant, but God's first."

Edith Stein [1891-1942]: Later known as St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, a German Jewish philosopher who became a Discalced Carmelite nun, and was martyred by the Nazis at Auschwitz, gave expression to her child-like faith when she wrote: "Lay all your plans about the future in God's hands, and let yourself be guided by the Lord just like a little child."

Miguel Pro, SJ [1891-1927]: a Mexican priest, who, when hauled before a firing squad, with arms outstretched like Christ crucified, confessed his faith, as with his last breath, he cried out: "Viva Cristo Rey!" – "Long Live Christ the King!"

Ultimately, the object of faith is the Eternal Mystery, which is beyond all human understanding. This is why we should lean not on ourselves alone, we should trust in the Lord with all our hearts (cf. Prov 3:5). We need His guiding hand, which faith inspires us to reach for and trust compels us to take hold. Too often we equate faith with knowledge and understanding. Since the Truth is not of this world, we cannot possess Truth, however we can come to intimately know Truth. Jesus proclaimed "I am the Truth" (cf. Jn 4:16) but do we believe this? For when we feel His love, the clouds of doubt will lift and we will never again be the same.

Let us, then, always cherish our nation's heritage. Let us pray for strength and the conviction we need to uphold our Judeo-Christian traditions, lest we doubt the very words inscribed on our own currency and on our own monuments. For engraved high atop the Washington Monument is a declaration of praise confirming where our devotion lies: "Laus Deo!" – "Praise be to God!"

"This is the victory that overcomes the world, our faith"
(1 Jn 5:4b).

© Anna Githens

 

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Anna Githens

Anna Githens is a freelance writer who is passionate about promoting Christian ideals and tried and true American values. With an M.A. in Theology from Seton Hall University’s Immaculate Conception Seminary and a B.A in Economics from Providence College, she has diverse career experience in bond trading, teaching, and journalism. She is a mother of three wonderful sons and resides in New Jersey with her family.

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