It’s not very “Christian” to doubt. Or is it?
If by means of the incarnation we are made one with the Son of God–who himself was crucified, buried, and raised–we can only conclude that we are called, as the apostle Paul insists, to participate not only in the resurrection of Jesus, but also in his crucifixion. And if we are to called to participate in — to embody again for the world — the crisis of the crucifixion, we must not, then, fail to make manifest in ourselves the utter forsakenness of Jesus upon that cross.
Indeed, I’m writing to suggest the possibility that we have neglected to fully participate in the cross of Christ when we fail to consider what his forsakenness might look like wearing our flesh, blood, and bone.
As Christians, we are tempted to mask the kind of chaos, crisis, or doubt that sometimes sends our personal theologies into complete disarray. From time to time, we feel the ‘Eloi! Eloi! Lama sabachthani?’ pressing its shape down upon our lives. But it is embarrassing. And when we let the crucified Jesus loose to borrow our tongues to cry the same cry with our own mouths, we are met with all too many well-meaning Christians’ quick and ready reassurances that God is in control, that He is good, that He is sovereign, and that we need not worry or doubt or fear.
And so either out of our deep love for those in close proximity to our lives or out of fearing the potential effects of our doubting upon their lives, we do everything we can to submerge it. We are forced to doubt alone.
Because it’s not very “Christian” to doubt.
And yet there, upon the cross, who do we find but the divine atheist himself: Jesus Christ.
Author Peter Rollins explains: “What we witness here is a form of atheism: not intellectual–Christ directly addresses God as he dies–but a felt loss of God. In the Gospels according to Matthew and Mark we read of Christ crying out in agony, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ This is a profoundly personal, painful, and existential atheism.”
It is really only when we, too, lose God – the God of all our overarching mythologies, the God that faithfully soothes and serves our emotional serenity with endless reassurances, the God of psychological safety nets and rationalization for the chaos of our world – that we may enter into Christ’s cry of dereliction most truly and wholly. I wonder if we are not called to run from our doubt, but to enter into it fully. I do not mean we ought to recklessly throw ourselves into doubt any more than I would contend that we throw ourselves into belief with the same recklessness. I only mean to suggest that it is only when we lose this God (who is, in the end, not really God at all) that we may participate in doubt as sacrament.
Maybe – just maybe – it is very Christian to doubt.