CONFESSIONS OF A DOUBTING THOMAS


Doubting Thomas by Caravaggio

John 20 of the New Testament deals in verse 21-29 with the story of “Doubting Thomas” who would not believe that Jesus was resurrected before he had had a chance to feel the wounds cause by the crucifixion for himself.

Well, according to the author of John, he was given that opportunity.

28Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

29Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

According to the Wikipedia this passage illustrates how Jesus preferred faith over skepticism. A logical explanation. At the same time you could look at the meanings of the word blessed to find in for instance the Collins Shorter Dictionary and Thesaurus that blessed means

characterized by happiness

Come to think of it, I have read many books by now that deal with finding evidence for God, here in New Zealand one could think of the recently published Divinity Code by Ian Wishart or what to think of the site Does God Exist or “The Rational God” by Robert Cary and there are of course the range of Atheisty books like Dawkins “God Delusion” that try to make a case for the non-existence of God. Personally I always had an issue with trying to prove what there isn’t. It just does not seem to make sense to me.

More recently I have written my own opinions on this matter after a visit to Harmony Church. At the moment I am reading the book “A case for Christ” byLee Strobel which I have to say is a fine read which I will most definitely report in another post ( A big thanks you to Charles if you read this).

Looking back only at myself, what is the case with Thomas is probably the same as what has happened to me and with me many others that are willing to consider the possibility and start looking for the evidence. You end up in a long process of looking at the evidence, being convinced at times but at the same time focusing on the missing pieces. If you want me to believe, and for that matter I want to, if only because I see what it does to people, than I need proof and further proof and further proof. At the same time those that just took the leap of faith are enjoying the “goodies” it seems.

The whole journey of the past years has been one as described of a rationalist with a twist, trying to make faith a rational choice. In that journey there have been many moments of joy, of epiphany and also of doubt, of self reflection which has taken countless hours locked up in my study, late at night, researching, reading, talking to experts you name it. I could have just accepted in the first place that what seems to be supported by evidence and rational thought straight away and not gone through the struggle that came with this journey.

Could it maybe be that “blessed” also refers to that quality of “characterized by happiness” that comes from not being hindered by skepticism? A very friendly lady at Harmony Church, and having read my post said it I guess better than anyone could have told me:

You remind me of my husband, also an intellectual, always reading, writing, studying. But you know all this intellectual stuff can stand in the way of enjoying your relationship with God.

I guess the lady has a very strong point. The journey of the last years has been very rewarding in that I have found in the teachings of Jesus a fantastic guide to life. But all the intellectual exercises could very easily lead to making these powerful lessons into the “Ultimate Guide to Humanism”, you live according to the values but miss out on the joy that comes with placing your faith in Jesus and letting God be a living part of your life. In that sense:

blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed

There was never any doubt about whether or not a Creator existed, just look around you. But the next step is of course asking yourself the question what that God or creator is like. Can there really be such a thing as God interfering in human life and watching over us?

All I can say for now is since I opened myself up to this possibility and started seeking for the relationship, little miracles seem to happen every day.

5 thoughts on “CONFESSIONS OF A DOUBTING THOMAS

  1. This post seems to have another tone, not explicitly expressed: the search for Self and if God exists, where is he?

    I watched Deepak Chopra’s Commonwealth Club address,How to Create a New Self, [ url: http://fora.tv/2009/10/22/Deepak_Chopra_How_to_Create_a_New_Self ], and during the question and answer period he gives an answer to the existence of God and whether God is female or male. His answer is illuminating.

    Deepaks says,””You can’t change the body without changing the self, and you can’t change the self without bringing in the soul.” Chopra believes the highest choice is to reinvent your body and resurrect your soul.

    His idea that the body and the soul are connected, implies there is a spiritual link somewhere. His use of science to support century old Hindu beliefs is also interesting.

    Whether he achieves an authentic and believable hypothesis remains unclear to the initial comments on the site.

    • Hi Michael, thank you for this reply. I don’t think that the tone implicitly or explicitly of this post is really that different. Maybe for a first time there is some emotion as opposed to just argumentation. As you know I have not doubt that there is something like a creator and that has been like that for a long time.

      The next questions have always been is that creator God and after that how correct are the assertions that are being made about that deity. In that I have also been looking closely at the Atheists literature and the Science v Religion debates.

      From my viewpoint the debate is a distraction as it doe not really deal with whether or not there is a God or creator but with an attack on Christian claims on what God is and pseudo-scientific claims that attack evolution theory which has been seen as the greatest threat for Christian believes. (On a personal note I do not think that is true.)

      Now we are coming more towards the matter you raised. In my view and what I tried to express in the post is that intellectuality CAN stand in the way of matters of a more spiritual or religious nature, especially where the matter of “I’ll believe it when I see it” is concerned.

      For me the idea of having a relationship with a God that intervenes in individual human life has been one surrounded with many questions such as:
      – does this idea really make sense other than where one reaches a transcendent state of being, a state of wholeness
      that you can find back in such systems as Buddhism and Hinduism, gnostic literature and Kaballah?
      – if God does, why all the hardship in the world?
      – if there is a God with which you can have a relationship on a daily basis is this the God described in Christian literature?

      With that type of questions the next series immediately arises once you have the answers to the first series:
      – what would a relationship with God be like/ what is the nature of such a relationship?
      – how do you get into that relationship with God? (in this there is an additional interesting sideline I have been exploring which is whether you could start living as good as you can according to principles of Love, Compassion and it will lead you towards a connection with God or is it the other way around do you seek the relation first in order to be able to actually live these basic concepts)

      The paradox is that it may well be, and that is what I am referring to here in this post is that you can spend a lifetime theorizing, finding more evidence and looking for additional explanations. Don’t get me wrong there is considerable value in that in my view if only because we have had these fantastic long talks about these and so many other matters. The parallel with Doubting Thomas is probably starting to become more clear.

      No what this post was about is the resultant of a few matters that have been happening. Me going up and down to the Netherlands and finally coming to terms with the idea that New Zealand, Christchurch is my home and no longer just where I live (for the time being). That made an incredible difference. The other thing is that I came back with an urge to start attending church. I could rationalize that by saying it is a way of meeting new people in your hometown but the urge was stronger than that. My problem was as you can imagine based on our past great talks: which one? The traditional catholic, reformed and protestant churches had for reasons you know already not really an appeal. Just before I left the Netherlands, we met the people behind Harmony Church and I knew we had a card still somewhere. Long story short, that is where we ended up going and have been the past weeks.

      It is there I have seen what it can mean to have this active relationship with God and I was amazed. Finally a church where substance went over form. At the same time I kept those intellectual, rationalist reservations and felt that whilst it was great to meet such fantastic people (and really they all are) I need find my own way in all of this. A visit to a service on Sunday however can leave you with one impression only: wow!

      This post then is not so much a search to my self as an exploration of what it means to be in an active relationship with God. Instead of trying to theorize my way towards what the way to establish that is. I turned it around, and took the “leap of faith” we so often talked about in all kinds of contexts. This is not about changing bodies, changing selves, and all about the start of a new relationship. I guess it is about taking things top a different level: the living a life of love and compassion was already there but more in a humanist sense ( in a way very similar to my mother) and in a very concrete way there is something very spiritual about that. The next step is about enhancing this through an active relationship with God. I am starting to find this to be an actual possibility but in order to experience that actual possibility, I for once in my life opened up my heart before there was “conclusive evidence.” It is changing things that’s all it is.

  2. Well you said it nicely and proactively John,”I for once in my life opened up my heart before there was ‘conclusive evidence.’ It is changing things that’s all it is.”

    I wish you well on this journey bro!____Michael

  3. Pingback: RENAISSANCE AND JOURNEY « John Dierckx

  4. Pingback: Nicodemus meets Jesus: Some Thoughts of a Chaotic Mind « The Desk of the Renaissance Man

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