Some have questioned my wisdom in “planting seeds of doubt” about the foundation upon which so many have built their faith, i.e. the church. However, I sat through plenty of non-member classes where the primary strategy for making converts was to plant seeds of doubt in the minds of attendees about the errors they once believed.
So I ask: Shouldn’t we not only plant seeds of doubt about teachings we believe to be erroneous, but nurture them? Isn’t that a duty of Christians, to seek truth relentlessly? Didn’t Peter plant seeds of doubt in the minds of his listeners on Mars’ Hill? How about Paul, when he told the Galatian church that he marveled how soon they had wandered away from the pure and simple gospel? Wasn’t he planting seeds of doubt about their errors?
I believe it is dangerous to put such deep faith in an institution of men which has given us such wildly unbiblical teachings about sex, wine, travel, attire, etc., all the while claiming exclusive status as the One True Church. When the institution falters, and it will, because it is made by human hands, so will the faith of its members. And that’s exactly why I contend that the faith of so many has been damaged or destroyed by this group. They’ve been taught that this church is the only place they can put their trust. I contend the only place we can put our trust is not in any human institution, but in Jesus Christ himself, and him crucified.
Therefore, it’s a good thing to question with boldness our own assumptions to make sure we are not believing a lie. That doesn’t mean we are tossed about with every wind of doctrine. There is a balance between having confidence in what we believe, and having the humility to realize we aren’t perfect and don’t know it all.
A good Catholic may have rested his faith in the institutions of the Catholic Church his whole life. Is he not right to doubt what once seemed like such a firm foundation to him? Or should he be open to the possibility that there is a more sure foundation he should put his trust in? It may be hard for him to make the change if he’s devoted decades of his life to defending Catholicism, but can’t we agree that he’s wise, not foolish, to ponder his doubts about the Catholic Church?
I’ll grant you that it’s scary to be confronted with your own misunderstandings and be forced to re-examine so many of the assumptions you believed true for so many years. Believe me–I know because I’ve been through this process myself. I know how hard it is, and the risks involved. You risk leaving those you love behind in your journey of spiritual growth. But the reward of pursuing truth is so much greater than comfort with the status quo, and if we let our love shine to those around us, we’ll have the greatest chance of bringing them along with us on our journey.
Therefore, doubt about our errors is just as essential as faith in what is truth. We don’t have to fear doubt it if we are honestly seeking truth, because truth doesn’t need to be afraid of a lie. No matter our age, no matter how long we held our past opinions, we have to examine our doubts about the errors we once accepted, and if found to be valid, start rebuilding on the only proper foundation, the rock of Jesus Christ himself.
Doubt is simply part of our growth process. We first doubt things when we see evidence our old ideas might have been mistaken. When our seeds of doubts are confirmed and we are convicted of our past errors, we can use those doubts to drive our quest for truth. Pursue truth honestly and vigorously, and God will make sure we find it.