Photo credits

The Embalse de Riano in northern Spain. The picture was taken by .... me!

Friday, January 3


Saint Thomas is famous for having doubts.

I think he gets an unfairly bad pass press.  I wonder if it wasn't so much doubts about God as doubts about his friends' reliability as witnesses.

I find myself in a similar position.  In my heart I believe in God.  It's just the testimony about him that makes me wonder.

In my latest crisis of doubt, I am losing faith in the reliability of scripture.  This stems from my wifes theology course and its assertion that Daniels lions den was a literary device rather than a historical event.  Then more recently I have read of doubts that jesus was born in Bethlehem - again it was a literary device to attach Jesus to prophecy.

This kind of thing does not bother my wife at all.  But from my perspective, if Jesus was not born there, then the prophecy was not fulfilled and the record is a lie: the gospel (small g) is a lie, and thus the Gospel (capital g) is a lie.  I don't see that you can truly on the scriptures (for a revelation of God and salvation) if they are unreliable (for history).

Now Mrs points out to me that even I don't think genesis requires belief in a literal seven days.  And she thinks I am inconsistent to be happy with that but not with the stuff academics now say about other books of the Bible.   But to me that is different because I get that from the text itself - the sun was not made til several days in so the previous mornings and evenings were not sunrises and sunsets.  Similarly I am happy for Job to be a fictional parable because it does not anchor itself to a particular period and had only vague references to a cultural or political milieu.  But Daniel does anchor itself to specific kings and the dates within their reigns.  And the gospels too, acknowledging that they are 'bios' not a modern diary, are anchored to kings and dates and places known to the readers.

So if it turns out that these are not historical, then for me they are not true.   And if he was not born in Bethlehem, why should I also believe he rose?  If one part is fabrication, then it is fabrication, period.  And I feel lied to.

Now I have always said that faith needs to hold it's doctrines like the springs of a trampoline so that if one breaks you still have a trampoline.  But my trampoline is getting to the stage where it has insufficient springs for bouncing.

I am not committing apostasy, but I am committing Thomas-sy.  I am struggling with the witness of the disciples, and I need to be reassured of the veracity of the gospel.  I need to put my finger in his wounds. 

So please give Thomas (and me) a break.

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