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Am I double-minded and unstable? August 8, 2005

Posted by roopster in Bible, Christianity, faith, God, Religion, spirituality, Theology.
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According to Webster’s Dictionary, faith is a “firm belief in something for which there is no proof.” I’ve always had issues with this definition of faith. How can one be “firm” in their beliefs when there is no proof? Isn’t this a bit naive? This definition encourages Christians to turn their brains off when it comes to what they believe and to simply accept it. There came a point in my journey when I could no longer “firmly” accept things I could not prove. As long as there is reasonable doubt, I may still choose to believe it, but it is not with a “firm belief.”

According to James this makes me a “double-minded man” and as a result I am “unstable in all [my] ways.”

But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways (James 1:6-8)

What? To use the brain God gave me is my right as a human. If God wanted us all to be robots and simply accept everything we are told, he could have made us as robots. However, he chose not to.

I no longer ascribe to this definition of faith. I may choose to believe in God but it is with a level of doubt. Does this make me “double-minded” and “unstable?” Well if it does, I’ll wear those labels with pride.

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Comments»

1. HarryTick™ - July 3, 2005

Not quite sure the traditional interpretation is the correct one when it comes to James.

2. Denes de Sainte-Claire (Baron Del) - July 3, 2005

American Heritage Dictionary:
faith
1. Confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing.
2. Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence. See Synonyms at belief. See Synonyms at trust.
3. Loyalty to a person or thing; allegiance: keeping faith with one’s supporters.
4. often Faith Christianity. The theological virtue defined as secure belief in God and a trusting acceptance of God’s will.
5. The body of dogma of a religion: the Muslim faith.
6. A set of principles or beliefs.

Roopster’s Dictionary:
faith
1. A naive belief in something for which there is no proof.

I think yours would definitely fit in there somewhere, under the circumstances.

3. Karl - July 4, 2005

One wonders if the author of James knew about Jesus cry of despair (doubt?) from the cross.

Was Jesus double minded?

perhaps so.

4. MMM - July 4, 2005

Can’t we all describe faith as a “choice to believe”, and just leave it alone? If we keep judging ourselves, we leave no work for God. I choose to believe in God. And in love. And in hope. The Bible says that faith, hope and charity abide. Sounds like faith just is, whether one believes it or not.

5. Denes de Sainte-Claire (Baron Del) - July 4, 2005

To mmm,

Here is a link I thought you might like. Check out the articles section
http://www.magdalene.org/
Baron Del

6. Denes de Sainte-Claire (Baron Del) - July 4, 2005

Roop,

Following the same reasoning that you apply, God appears to be “double-minded and unstable” as well. Think about the many different biblical references pertaining to God, and His dealings with people and places from OT to NT.

Personally, and under the circumstances of mankind’s history, I could readily accept “God” as a high-powered, but slightly flawed deity. Like all beings, God means well, but sometimes lands slightly off the mark. Once this is established, using our innate reasoning, we can surmise that then all those below Him are likewise flawed, but may mean well. Therefore, the farther down the “food-chain” of humanity you travel, the more flawed and imperfect (especially in the biblical accounts) we all are. But still, generally meaning well, and inherently good (thus, good doesn’t make right).

7. Zoe - July 7, 2005

AMEN! Oops, a Christian moment there…a bit of a lapse for me. ;) I like this post Roop.

8. The Heretic - July 7, 2005

Nice post. I’ve often wondered the same thing. I’ve also wondered why the hell is is included as a virtue. “Faith, hope and Love” I get love, but faith doesn’t register. Hope doesn’t really either but faith even less so. I suspect faith has something to do with choice when the evidence, in theory, could go either way. Maybe not equally both ways, but both ways all the same. Which is why I hate apologetics. What since does faith make when you prove something? Especially when you prove it using shoddy reasoning, unfounded premises, and straw man’s as far as the eye can see.

9. Dogtired321 - July 12, 2005

I’ve made this comment many times before….”Nowhere in the Bible does it say, Thou shalt turneth off thy brain”. It has helped a number of my friends and at times, has gotten me into trouble because not everyone likes my attitude.

With that said, I highly believe in Isaiah 40:8. The word of God will be around until the end of time. There are important lessons in the Bible that can be used by Christians, Atheists, Muslims, etc.

Regardless, I never like to look at one scripture in and of itself. Sometimes, the scriptures immediately preceeding and following a scripture define what is really meant and if you choose to remove those additional scriptures, the Bible is wrong as they have to be taken in their totality. Sometimes, you have to look elsewhere in the Bible.

What if you were to combine this scripture with Ephesians 4:14 “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive”.

To me, those two scriptures combined say, be smart, look at the issues, pray, and then decide. In other words….be not double-minded.

If any thinking person claims that they have never had a doubt, then they are either lieing to you, or to themselves, or both.

10. eddie - August 10, 2005

I think James is as legalistic as they come, and he misinterpreted the Scriptures, diametrically opposed to what Paul said about the same event. But you are right – I find this “turning off the brain” rife in Christians, and for me faith without substance is wishful thinking. I tend to agree with Harry, that we simply have the wrong interpretation of “faith.”

11. Anonymous - October 9, 2006

You shall love the Lord thy God with all your heart, all your MIND and your strength – Mark 12:28-30. Deuteronomy 6:5.
Faith doesn’t require you to switch off your brain.
It says in Romans 12:2 to be transformed by the RENEWAL of your MIND, not the REMOVAL of your MIND.

I Peter3:15 it says to set Christ apart as Lord in your heart and always be prepared to give an answer (logical) for the hope that is in you.

Acts 14:17
Apostle Paul reasoned with the Greeks – told them how God has not left himself without witness:

Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness

Acts 17:26
And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation

Faith and logic are not opposites as many suppose.
Everyone can believe.
Many who call themselves atheists are themselves double minded of their atheistic beliefs, one minute they say they are atheists then the next minute they say they are agnostics.

Where do you think logic comes from – God himself.

Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear – Hebrews 11:3

Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts,
For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water – 2 Peter3

God showed me last night that the reason many don’t recieve from him is because of being double minded, including myself at times.
He just popped it straight into my spirit.

12. amandalaine - April 5, 2007

Here are two quotes that help me:

“Those who believe they believe in God, but without passion in the heart, without anguish of mind, without uncertainty, without doubt, and even at times without despair, believe only in the idea of God, and not in God himself.” – Unamuno

“To come to a doubt, and to a debatement of any religious duty, is the voice of God in our conscience: Would you know the truth? Doubt, and then you will inquire. – Donne

Anyway, good post! Your definition of faith, as others have suggested, is flawed. Are you aware of anything that has complete proof? I am not. What we really need is evidence. And we have that. The question then becomes how much evidence is needed? To me, that is the great question: exactly how do faith and reason interact? Because, they clearly do at all times. I can not reason without having made a few assumptions (i.e. faith) and I can not have faith without having a reason to do so (no matter how poor). Faith is unavoidable – we all have a lack of information. This is what it means to be human to a large extent.

Your question about the verse? Great question. I don’t know. To me faith requires doubting – doubting is just like the other side of faith. But, Jesus (and here, James) seem to have a real problem with doubting. I don’t know. Hebrews 11:6 and Mark 9:24 are great for helping to shed light on the subject of doubt.

And, just to respond to some of the other comments above, I have NOT found “turning off of the brain” rife among other Christians.

13. roopster - April 7, 2007

amanda,

Thanks for your very thoughtful comments. Can you expand on the statement “What we really need is evidence. And we have that.” I agree with your first statement and I’m trying to determine how you came to the conclusion that we have the evidence.

Paul


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