Of course doubt is a trend! (It’s just bigger than you think)

by Rachel Held Evans Read Distraction Free

There have been some rumblings across the blogosphere recently about whether religious doubt has become a trend.

With folks like me, Jason BoyettNick Fielder, and Drew Marshallspeaking  openly about our doubts, it’s easy to see how some might wonder if doubt has become just another element of “hipster Christianity,” a cool word to throw around like “authentic” or “winsome.”  

It may surprise you to learn that I agree that doubt is a trend—but not in a slap-bracelets/skinny jeans/ iced latte sort of a way; more in a Copernican Revolution/ Renaissance/postmodernism sort of a way.

Phyllis Tickle puts it like this: 

“…The only way to understand what is currently happening to us as twenty-first-century Christians in North America is first to understand that about every five hundred years the Church feels compelled to hold a giant rummage sale…About every five hundred years the empowered structures of institutionalized Christianity, whatever they may be at the time, become an intolerable carapace that must be shattered in order that renewal and new growth may occur.” (The Great Emergence, p. 16)

According to Tickle, we are living through one of those pivotal times right now as changes related to biology (evolution), physics, psychology, higher criticism, and the Information Age raise serious questions about the Bible, religious pluralism, authority, and faith.  

The world is changing and Christians are changing with it. To expect the Church to pass through such a significant cultural shift without any of its members experiencing doubt is simply unrealistic. 

In this sense, Al Mohler is right. Evolution indeed raises some major theological questions that should not be taken lightly. How important is an historical Adam to the Christian faith? What does it mean to have death before The Fall? How should Genesis be interpreted? How should the Bible be interpreted? How should we respond to the idea that the universe can be explained without God? 

This is uncharted territory, and these questions do not have easy answers. But unlike Mohler, I’m not prepared to ignore the evidence that compels me to ask them anyway.

So sometimes I doubt. 

And I get the feeling that I’m not alone. 

In fact, I suspect that over the next 50 years, we will hear a lot more about doubt, as many of our brothers and sisters struggle to make sense of all this new information. Im convinced that for the Church to survive the Information Age, it's got to stop teaching Christians to avoid doubt and start teaching them how to survive it. 

We’ve got to learn how to doubt well. 


What do you think? Is doubt a trend?

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