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New Church Perspective
is an online magazine with essays and other content published weekly. Our features are from a variety of writers dealing with a variety of topics, all celebrating the understanding and application of New Church ideas. For a list of past features by category or title, visit our archive.

Entries in doubt (13)


Faithful Evolution 

Religious as a kid, Jose turned to atheism when life fell apart near the end of highschool. But after a chance visit led him to Bryn Athyn College, his life changed again as friends and teachers discussed, argued and listened to him, helping him to find the power of religion in his life again. -Editor

God doesn’t exist; if there isn’t concrete physical proof, then that’s all simply a fairy tale, a way for individuals to feel they can control what cannot be controlled.
This is a sentiment I loudly exclaimed to my three friends as we all sat around the old couches in Childs Hall one late evening during our first week at Bryn Athyn College. We were discussing the existence of God, Jesus, heaven and hell, and the creation of the universe, though not soon enough it became all about faith and God. The argument was divided in two groups. On one side, my friends: three devoted Christians from different denominations with the belief in the positive impact of Christianity in their lives and the lives of others. On the other side, me: a Catholic-raised individual turned atheist who saw religion and holy figures as a waste of precious time and energy. I believed energy could be better allocated to living a life for yourself and your family and not wasted on religious “fairy tales,” as I would put it several times during the night’s conversation.

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High Stakes

Jasper considers the spiritual risk involved in challenging our beliefs and trying others on for size. How far should one go in search of spiritual integrity? How much should the stakes affect your spiritual decision making? -Editor

A little while ago I saw a problem with the way I was thinking. I didn’t feel like the package of belief that I officially subscribed to was one that I could clearly explain or defend. When challenged to do so—either by a friend or simply by an idea—my responses came up hollow and unconvincing: repetitions of other people’s words or hedging statements that didn’t really address the issue. It’s important that the way I live my life, the way I understand the world, and the things I believe be in alignment and I realized that I needed to reevaluate my beliefs if I wanted to have that integrity.

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How Can We Believe 

Do you need physical evidence to support your faith, particularly faith in Jesus Christ? If not what is the foundation of your faith? Coleman writes about why faith in Jesus Christ is a crucial part of a relationship with God, and why physical evidence isn't as important as it can feel. -Editor.

Jesus said, “Blessed are they who have not seen, and have believed.” (John 20:29)

The gospel of John records Jesus speaking those words to “doubting Thomas,” who only believed when he was able to see the risen Lord for himself. Today, almost 2,000 years from that event, we are the ones who, if we are to believe, must do so without seeing, at least not with our physical eyes. Can we do that? Some things may seem fairly easy to believe: for example, that we ought to treat one another with respect, and even that there is an unseen force guiding the universe. But can we believe the specific and the miraculous: that the Lord Jesus Christ is God, and that He literally rose from the grave? The belief that the risen Lord is the living God is a vital one; Jesus said, “Blessed are those who have believed,” and stated even more strongly, “unless you believe that I am, you shall die in your sins” (John 8:24) – a teaching affirmed in the Doctrine of the New Church (e.g. in Arcana Coelestia 10083) 1. If we want to have eternal life, we have to believe in the Lord. But what if we find ourselves besieged by doubts? How can we do anything about that? Can we force ourselves to believe? It can seem to be a hopeless situation, but the Lord gives us hope that we can believe. In Scripture and in the Doctrine of the New Church, He shows us how.

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Joel describes the process he uses when flooded with doubt. He draws a distinction between the experience of doubt, and the choice to see beyond it, by taking loving actions in spite of his emotions and thoughts. This essay was first published in Beacon, the Bryn Athyn College newspaper. Joel's contribution wraps up our themed series on doubt. You can find the lead essay in the series [here]. -Editor.

Doubt is a topic that has always been important to me. I think this is because I have a very skeptical personality. I like to disbelieve things until they have been absolutely proven to me. This is a problem, as I also strive to have a strong faith in the Lord. This conflict has led me to try to understand what faith really is, and what place doubt has in the context of faith. Often, I am confronted by the question, “How can I have faith when I am experiencing such strong doubt?”

First of all, it is important to have an idea of what faith is. On one level, it is all those things that I think are correct.

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Tools for Dealing with Doubt with Dan Synnestvedt

In this episode, Dr. Synnestvedt, a professor of philosophy at Bryn Athyn College, outlines some categories of doubt: local or global, subjective or objective, from the intellect or from the will. With these categories in mind, he suggests ways of dealing with some of our doubts and the fear that accompanies them. He also recomends the book Alvin Steadfast on Vernacular Island How can we learn from and live with uncertainty?

Tools for Doubt with Dan Synnestvedt


The Uneasy Alliance of Faith and Doubt

As author of the fourth essay in our series on doubt Brian writes from both a personal perspective, as someone familiar with the strain of doubt, and from his professional vantage point, as minister to a church congregation. He casts doubt as the unfortunate, but necessary catalyst of our vivification by God. Without doubt our beliefs may become hard; doubt tenderizes the meat of our faith. While acknowledging its purpose, Brian refuses to elevate doubt for its own sake. Find the opening essay in the series [here]. -Editor.

I feel overwhelmed by all the different ways I could respond to the subject of doubt. It engages me theologically, psychologically, culturally and personally. It is one of the greatest tools in the hand of the Creator, and also one of the most painful and afflicting experiences in the human heart.

I think of the topic very broadly. We don't just doubt the existence of the Creator, but we doubt His power, His purpose and His presence. We doubt ourselves, and whether we can be saved. We doubt each other. We doubt whether evil exists. We doubt whether love exists. We doubt whether we are spiritual beings. We doubt our abilities, we doubt our motives. We doubt our choices – our marriages, our careers, our parenting, our politics. We doubt our safety, our future, our happiness.

Perhaps I will begin personally.

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