I grew up in a church culture that didn’t value transparency. Many people I grew up with feared discussing doctrines or even application of Scripture that they had doubts about. Fearing that they might be ostracized. Fearing their family might be singled out. Fearing they might lose the only world they knew.
I have often shared parts of my own story that are painful (“Gospel Wakefulness: My Story,” “From Depression and Suicidal Thoughts to an Unbridled, Blood-bought Joy in Christ,” “How David Bazan Saved Me,” & “A Letter to Myself”). I have shared my own period of doubt (you might call it atheism lite). I shared these stories because there are others who are experiencing and have experienced similar things. These people must know they are not alone.
But I hope I’ve never glorified doubt. I hope I haven’t shared my suffering, sin, or doubt just to share it. Or worse yet to encourage others who are living their own stories to follow that path. That seems to take place a lot. Suffering, sin, and doubt unanchored to Christ is “terrors and dangers” (a phrase used to described hearing Tolkien read aloud about the monsters in Beowulf).
I encourage transparency and I firmly urge everyone to share their stories--especially the tough parts. When we don’t share these parts, we feel as though we are alone. We fail in comforting others as Christ has comforted us. The Spirit shares Christ’s own struggle in the Garden but he didn’t leave us in the struggle. We hear “Not my will” and then we are driven to the foot of the cross.
I wonder if we are too cavalier about our sin, suffering, and doubt? I wonder if we see those things as ends in themselves and not as a means to drive others to the cross of Christ?
It seems en vogue to question truth, but (as Chesterton put it) “the object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid.” However, many of us who begin to close our mouth find that “truth has rough flavors” (Armgart).
We despise the bitterness of truth. But if we despise the bitterness of truth we despise Christ himself because his death and suffering was bitter. It’s not a pleasant truth that the “very God of very God” was put to death. By sharing our doubts without understanding the depths of suffering in Christ we don’t understand the true darkness and groaning (Romans 8) that results because of the Fall.
We are, in effect, downplaying the sin, suffering, and doubt. Or making them supreme over Christ. Doubt must always be anchored to Christ.