Fortress or Road
Both of my grandsons enjoy building things with Lego blocks. My younger grandson, however, does not like his Lego towers to fall down. He plays while all the while fearing the collapse of his construction. This fear seems to have two adverse effects: first, it makes it hard for him to enjoy the building experience; and secondly, it prevents him from building as high as he might otherwise, thereby limiting his creations. Since he is only two years old, I’ll give him a pass (and because he is my grandson I must say that this is his only flaw). Sadly, many adults treat their faith like he treats his Lego creations. They live in fear that their belief system may collapse and therefore, never entertain any questions or doubts.
In a brand new book, Faith After Doubt, Brian McLaren talks about Christians who view their faith this way. They see it as a “fortress” to give them security. Any threat to that fortress must be rejected and silenced. They “double down” on their beliefs when feeling threatened. It seems to me that many of those who participated in the insurrection at the Capitol were doing this. They could not entertain any doubt about their firm belief that the election was “stolen.” They ignored the verdicts of more than sixty court cases and other evidence which overwhelmingly demonstrated the fundamental fairness of the election. Fearing the crash of their belief system, they turned to violence. Their “faith” actually brought great harm to themselves and others.
There is another way to view faith by looking at it through the experience of the parents of our faith- Abraham and Sarah. For them faith was not a fortress in which to lock themselves. Rather since their lives were a journey, faith became a road to travel with God. If this is so, perhaps, as McLaren suggests, we could learn to see doubt as a doorway out of the fortress which leads to the adventure filled road of faith.
One day my grandson will learn that when the Lego construction collapses it will provide an opportunity to build a bigger foundation and thus reach new heights. Let us not fear our doubts for they may be the path to a deeper and higher experience of faith and life.