Not Knowing, doubt

During my senior year of college I was required to write 5 and 10 year goals for my life.  It was assumed that developing a vision for life after college was a good thing.  A plan would help me to map out the next few years.  Graduation would not be a step into the unknown but rather a step into the known. Lately I have started to question the value of planning and knowing.  How much control do we actually have over the future?

The other week I was at a Calling Congregation’s conference put on by the Fund for Theological Education.   Barbra Brown Taylor delivered the closing sermon. Her topic was “The Value of Not Knowing.”

When God called Abram in Genesis 12, Abram was just told to go, the destination was not given.  Can you imagine telling your spouse and family that you are moving?  You just don’t know where, but God will reveal it somewhere down the road.

Can you imagine being one of the first disciples and explain the call to your family?  “Sorry Mom and Dad, I need to quit the family business and follow this unknown rabbi.”  Other then the “fisher of people” promise, Jesus didn’t say a whole lot.  How were they going to support themselves?  What kind of career opportunities did following Jesus lead to?

Shortly after hearing Barbra’s sermon, I was at a gathering where Peter Rollins, an Irish Theologian, shared.  He spoke of the importance of doubt.   Not just a surface doubt, but a doubt that shakes the very core of an individual’s belief in God.  He spoke of a doubt that creates a space for atheism to emerge.

Consider Matthew 27:46, “My God my God, why have you forsaken me?”  Even Jesus experienced a doubt that lead to atheism.

For most of my adult life I have tied knowing and certainty to Christian maturity.  I am much less certain of this today.  To be honest, most of the time I don’t know where God is leading me and sometimes (the “sometimes” should be read as an understatement) I am not sure that God is present.

Can you imagine being part of a church where even the pastor has the space to doubt and not know?  Is it possible for the church to be a place where uncertainty and not knowing are understood as normative?