The Gift of Uncertainty

Many years ago, I was involved with a Bible conference. It was held once a year, and always asked the most conservative men to come speak and give their understanding of the Bible and the world around us.

While I may have enjoyed some talks, much of what was taught was rather fear-based and ultimately unhelpful.

But there’s one thing, specifically, that stands out in my mind tonight.

One year, we had a speaker that was teaching about the dangers of the Emerging Church. One of those dangers would be summed up in a random quote by Rob Bell’s wife in which she was describing how her worldview changed when she left fundamentalism for progressive Christianity. She described the beauty of uncertainty in spirituality as bringing colour to her formerly grey world of certainty and answers (I’m paraphrasing).

That’s all that she said.

This bothered the speaker quite deeply. He saw this kind of thinking as heresy.

At the time I agreed. I couldn’t understand finding beauty in not having the answers to everything. And I couldn’t understand why people would reject a faith that claimed to have all the answers for a faith that was completely comfortable with saying, “there’s a lot that we just don’t know. And that’s okay.”

I found deep comfort in believing I had the answers.

And then a number of things happened in my life that showed me, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that those answers I was so convinced of were all mere illusions.

Worse – they were illusions that kept me trapped in a pharisaical faith. It kept me away from truly knowing God. And in turn, I kept others from truly knowing God because I perpetuated the gospel of certainty in my own faith community.

I thought I had the answers on how to “cure” so-called alternative lifestyles (which was always code for those who belong to the LGBTQ community). And then I met people who were on the verge of suicide because they tried those “answers” and all it got them was deeply seated self-hatred and alienation from a loving community.

I thought I had the answers on how to end abortion. And then I met women whose lives were saved because they had access to safe and legal abortion.

I thought I had the answers to a Holy and God-pleasing life, and then I looked around me and realized that both myself and my faith community had sacrificed grace for the earning of salvation and righteousness by “holy and pure living.”

I thought I had the right interpretation of Scripture. But the more I untangle my faith from man-made traditions disguised as the gospel, the more I realize how little I actually know about the Bible. And the more I learn about what a truly big God I serve.

He is completely “other” to the boxes we love to force Him into. He exists outside our presuppositional apologetics and our systematic theologies.

I’m realizing how poorly I’ve understood the gospel my entire life.

And the more I realize that I don’t have the answers, the more beauty I see in my faith. Because it means that I follow a God who defies expectation and the demands of mere men.

It means I have a lifetime of learning to do to discover who He is. And to worship Him in more God-honouring ways.

Uncertainty is a gift. And it’s something the church needs to become more comfortable with. It’s not only okay to not have the answers, it’s healthy and good to be able to openly say the words, “I don’t know.”

We all have so much learning and growing to do. And we can only do that if we’re able to admit we’re not as certain as the church tells us we should be.

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