The Doubting Christian’s Starter Pack

Are you drawn to the story of a God who lives and dies full of love for a rebellious creation…yet find yourself wondering how it could possibly be true?  Have you grown weary of rules that seem to cause slavery rather than freedom?  Are you skeptical about the usefulness of “good news” that doesn’t seem so good?  Do you worry that the religion you grew up with doesn’t apply to a more diverse population?

Welcome to the Doubting Christians Club!

In a desire to provide a strong foundation for its members, the Church has often promoted a rigorous belief system that seems to leave little room for doubt…which can make doubters feel like they either need to leave the Church or else hide their doubts.  I don’t believe either of these options is a good idea for the Doubting Christian – the first because you will miss out on the beauty you are drawn to, and the second because you will live a double life that will slowly isolate and destroy you.

Luckily, there are others out there just like you (myself, for instance)!  Listed below is the Doubting Christians Starter Pack that will stretch your mind, give you hope, and assure you that you are not alone.

71891781|  O Me of Little Faith: True Confessions of a Spiritual Weakling by Jason Boyett  

This is the book that began my journey toward becoming comfortable with my doubt.    It was given to me, unasked for, by my pastor, which has earned him my undying respect.  In this book, Boyett gets honest about his doubts and comes to the conclusion that perhaps doubters are closer to God than those who never question their faith – after all, doubt is an inextricable part of a faith given to something unseen.

2|  “Doubting Thomas” by Nickel Creek

This song was my next step toward coming to terms with my burgeoning status as a Doubting Christian.  I figured if you could create art as beautiful as this song out of something so terrifying, then maybe it didn’t have to be so scary.

“What will be left when I draw my last breath besides the folks I met and the folks who know me?  Will I discover a soul-saving love or just the dirt above and below me?”

3|  “Threshold” by R.S. Thomas

I’ve written before (twice) about my love for the passage in 1 Kings 19 where Elijah struggles with depression, and when my friend sent me this poem, I immediately knew it was something to be cherished.  It starts dark and gets only slightly less dark, which is exactly the sort of perspective I sometimes need.

I emerge from the mind’s
cave into the worse darkness
outside, where things pass and
the Lord is in none of them.

14591345277824|  The Liturgist Podcast

This is the media content that most gave me hope that someday I might find myself surrounded by a large group of people who are totally in love with Jesus…and totally confused about literally every other aspect of Christianity.  Through the lenses of theology, art, and science, Michael Gungor and Science Mike discuss racism, prophets, sin, nationalism, the LGBTQ community, eschatology, marriage, safe churches, the Bible, and more.  Just do yourself a favor and download every single episode – they will stir your mind and sooth your soul.

137999735|  Misreading Scripture With Western Eyes by Brandon J. O’Brien

I read this book for seminary, and it went a long way in assuring me that many of my doubts come from a limited perspective as a privileged human being in a first world country in the 21st century.  It challenged the way I read the Bible, and it took away my surety in easy interpretations.  But in the end, it strengthened my desire to dive deeper and seek harder, so I count that as a win.

6|  “Nondum” by Gerard Manley Hopkins

This poem!  A middle school teacher read it for my small group a few years ago, and it has lived in my brain ever since.  It is unflinching in its assertion that God is too silent, a truth that I long for in a sea of feel-good praise music that never quite seems to speak to my reality.  There is hope in the midst of Hopkins’ pain, but it’s a hope surrounded by doubt…which I think makes the hope shine even brighter.

God, though to Thee our psalm we raise
No answering voice comes from the skies;
To Thee the trembling sinner prays
But no forgiving voice replies;
Our prayer seems lost in desert ways,
Our hymn in the vast silence dies.

8|  “Through the Deep, Dark Valley” album by The Oh Hellos

That feel-good praise music I mentioned earlier?  If you find it as meaningless as I usually do, please consider letting your ears listen to The Oh Hellos instead.  “Through the Deep, Dark Valley” is an album best listened to in its entirety, as it tells the story of paradise, fall, and paradise regained, but if you’re an impatient bastard (as so many of us in the Doubting Christians Club are), just go ahead and listen to “Second Child, Restless Child.”

“I was born a second child, with the spirit running wild, running free.  And they saw trouble in my eyes; they were quick recognize the devil in me.  See, I was born a restless child, and I could hear the world outside calling me.  And heaven knows how hard I tried, but that devil whispered lies I believed.”

No, I can’t in good conscience recommend you listen to just one song.  Listen to the entire album, please!

Welcome to the Doubting Christians Club.  I hope this Starter Pack is helpful to you!

Are you a fellow member of the Doubting Christians Club?  Is there some book, poem, song, or other media production that has given you strength in the midst of your doubt?  I would love to hear both your story and your recommendations below in the comments section!

4 thoughts on “The Doubting Christian’s Starter Pack

  1. Elizabeth Waibel (@lizwaibel) July 25, 2016 / 6:27 pm

    I endorse “Are Women Human?” by Dorothy Sayers.

    “Perhaps it is no wonder that the women were first at the Cradle and last at the Cross. They had never known a man like this Man – there never has been such another. A prophet and teacher who never nagged at them, never flattered or coaxed or patronised; who never made arch jokes about them, never treated them either as “The women, God help us!” or “The ladies, God bless them!”; who rebuked without querulousness and praised without condescension; who took their questions and arguments seriously; who never mapped out their sphere for them, never urged them to be feminine or jeered at them for being female; who had no axe to grind and no uneasy male dignity to defend; who took them as he found them and was completely unself-conscious. There is no act, no sermon, no parable in the whole Gospel that borrows its pungency from female perversity; nobody could possibly guess from the words and deeds of Jesus that there was anything “funny” about woman’s nature.”

    Liked by 1 person

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