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Putting Archbishop Welby’s “doubt” in context

Putting Archbishop Welby’s “doubt” in context

There has been a lot of unintelligent response to Archbishop Justin Welby’s admission last week that he sometimes wonders whether God exists. Writing for The New York Times, Julia Baird recounts and rebuts some of this response.

She says:

Faith cannot block out darkness, or doubt. When on the cross, Jesus did not cry out “Here I come!” but “My God, why have you forsaken me?” His disciples brimmed with doubts and misgivings.

Just as courage is persisting in the face of fear, so faith is persisting in the presence of doubt. Faith becomes then a commitment, a practice and a pact that is usually sustained by belief. But doubt is not just a roiling, or a vulnerability; it can also be a strength. Doubt acknowledges our own limitations and confirms — or challenges — fundamental beliefs, and is not a detractor of belief but a crucial part of it.

What she said.


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Rod Gillis

Terrific piece of writing by Julia Baird. I liked the reference to Bertrand Russell in her next to last paragraph.

Paul Tillich had some interesting insights on the whole faith, doubt, certainty, despair complex. Here’s just one, “Every theologian is committed and alienated; [he] is always in faith and in doubt; …inside and outside the theological circle….it depends on his ultimately being concerned with the Christian message even if he is sometimes inclined to attack or reject it.” ( Systematic Theology: Introduction V.I, p.10).

Justin Welby’s questioning angst, by contrast, is actually somewhat tame by Tillichian standards.

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