Faith Means Doubt – Thoughts from Thomas Merton

Yesterday I listened to an episode of Tokens Radio Show entitled The Wisdom of Skeptics.  I highly recommend it.  What most struck me was the reference to Thomas Merton and his belief that faith cannot exist without doubt.  I meet so many people who have given up their faith because they have been led to believe that Christians should not have doubts about what and why they believe.  It so saddens me to hear this.  Like most of us I struggle constantly with doubts.  As I grapple with them in the presence of God and my current understanding of Christian faith, they usually bring me to a deeper and richer knowledge of God and of what it means to be a follower of Christ.

I found this short video clip from his Soul Searching: The Journey of Thomas Merton which provides a few profound thoughts on the topic of doubt that I think will enrich all of us.


5 Responses

  1. In the Gospel message for this coming Sunday (Matt. 28:16-20), we read that even after following Jesus for years some of the disciples experienced doubt. And the Gospel’s author decided that it was important to point this out in the very last words of his Gospel. We might expect Matthew to paint a picture of the sure-hearted disciples rejoicing at meeting the resurrected Jesus and going forth into the world with confidence. Instead we read that some DOUBTED! Thanks be to God for Matthew’s honest and accurate testimony to real life. And yet in the face of doubt and questions and faint-heartedness, Jesus declares his reassuring presence with us to the end of the age.

    Frederick Buechner writes, “Faith is better understood as a verb than as a noun, as a process than as a possession. . . Faith is not being sure where you’re going, but going anyway. . . . Tillich said, that doubt isn’t the opposite of faith; it is an element of faith.” (Frederick Buechner, Wishful Thinking, 30)

    Thomas Merton, as you explained, was a wonderful encourager of the doubting faithful. Here is my favorite quote from Merton that I have carried with me for years. “My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going, I do not see the road ahead of me, I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore, I will trust you always, though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.” (Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1976)

    May God continue to bless the doubting faithful!

  2. […] week I posted this video on Faith means Doubt.  Coe Hutchison chair of the MSA Board and pastor at Grace Lutheran in Port […]

  3. […] Faith Means Doubt – Thouhgts from Thomas Merton ( […]

  4. […] doubt is very definitely a part of the human condition and as Thomas Merton affirms in this previous post, it is essential to faith.  Maybe like me you can identify with this quote from Merton that Coe […]

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