Photo by Caleb Woods on Unsplash
It makes me sad that I started this blog to record my thoughts about working through my faith and that the reason I haven’t written anything lately is that I’m having somewhat of a crisis of faith and I’m kind of embarrassed about it. I mean, of all people, I should not be having this crisis. I grew up in church. I was there every time the doors were open. I knew all of the right answers. If you named a Bible story, I probably could tell you that story from beginning to end. I always took notes during sermons; my Bible margins were filled with writing. I proudly showed off the fact that my Student Bible from 1995 started falling apart. I was in heaven when I got my first NIV Study Bible because it had more study notes for me to read and learn.
And then I got to seminary where it was a whole new ball game. For the most part, professors aren’t concerned with Sunday School answers. They want you to reach past the easy answers and get deep into the text and read it like you’ve never read it before. And that’s exactly what I’ve been doing this semester. Ironically, this is the root of my crisis in Dr. Ngan’s Scriptures I class. Anyone that has taken her class, will attest to the difficulty of the course. Yes, there’s a lot of reading, but it’s more than that. After 6 weeks in class, I know that the difficulty lies in its ability to stir up questions about some of the more difficult Bible passages as well as the ability to make you start questioning if certain stories actually happened. I bet you weren’t expecting that last part. Neither was I.
I was fine until we read Ancient Near East epics such as Gilgamesh and The Deluge. When you compare biblical accounts of creation and the flood with these epics, you start noticing many similarities. As in the essence of the story is the same, but with names changed. That’s when I started questioning which came first. Because if the Bible wasn’t written first, then that means that maybe the stories in Genesis didn’t really happen as written. And then the room starts spinning and I think that if Genesis isn’t true, then what’s to say any of the Bible is true? And then I started questioning my entire life and purpose (not kidding). I’ve been doing this for 6 weeks and my panic level just keeps growing.
The good(?) news is that many of Dr. Ngan’s students have gone through the same thing. I spoke with one of her former students today and he said that some people drop the class because they can’t handle the deconstruction of everything they were taught in church. He also added that she doesn’t necessarily do anything to reconstruct a “correct” belief system, either. The big-picture part of me can accept that because we all have to decide on our own beliefs, hence the working out of our salvation with fear and trembling. But the terrified child within me just wants a Sunday School teacher (or seminary professor) to tell me what to believe.
So that’s where I am, fellow pilgrim. I simultaneously want to continue and quit. But continue is winning for now. I’ll let you know if that changes.
If you’re intrigued by the epics that I mentioned above, leave me a message and I can get you those. But don’t say I didn’t warn you.
I think that part of the beauty and mystery is coming to see parts of the Bible as tension, and not having an answer. We were essentially taught as children that everything in the Bible was historical fact, and Ngan questions that. Is it all historical fact? That’s for you to decide; but is there truth within the stories? Fact and truth aren’t necessarily the same thing. Part of the reconstruction process is you deciding where in the tension your beliefs can reside. Love you friend!
Thanks, friend. And your comment is the reason I’m still moving forward. I hope the reconstruction process picks up, soon!