Certitude of Belief

Main Point: Seeing is believing VS Blessed to believe having not seen…

New Light: Thomas is not with the other disciples when Jesus first appeared to them following his resurrection, and, with some incredulity, asks for careful proof that this could be true. From this, the proverbial aspersion “doubting Thomas” was coined. However, in the Gospel of Thomas, verse 13, Jesus extols the high state of consciousness that Thomas had attained when he said, “Because you have drunk, you have become intoxicated from the bubbling spring which I have measured out.” Note: I read this metaphorically. (Smile!)

Truth: Thomas’ request for proof, or for direct experience of the risen Christ, is analogous to the Quaker value of ‘speaking from experience.’ Blind faith, or blind belief upon which no experience is based, could be said to be little more than superstition of dogma. Having personal spiritual experience melds one’s faith. However, in this scripture, although Jesus grants Thomas’ request and invites him to reach out and touch and see so that he might believe, he also declares that those who do not need to see to believe are blessed. It could be that either way – seeing and believing or believing even though you have not seen are equally valid spiritual paths.

Implications: Perhaps the real question is, as Twyla suggested, is: How is it that we become available to receiving the truth? When we don’t know for certain, are we able step into the darkness, and be open to possibility beyond our rationality? Can we move into the uncomfortable vast field of unknowing, and find the light within it, even if we do not know its source?

Problems / Opinion: For myself, I rather appreciate inquiring minds. I admire those who really want to know, those who ask, who search, who question, who are open to discuss, and who are open to new ideas and new ways of thinking. I find little in common with those that blindly believe without inquiring. Though ultimately spirituality is a matter of belief, when it is approached scientifically belief matures into realization – a direct knowing by soul intuition, a kind of deep knowing that seems almost assured – as in beyond belief. This is the unshakable faith of certitude, even for that which is unseen.

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6 responses

  1. In a list of qualities of spiritual maturity that I came across recently, one of the items was: “Questioning – one’s own investigation into the truth. Combines open-mindedness with a discriminating wisdom”.In my experience, there has been this wonderful paradox – when I swallowed all I learned from the “experts” without question, I felt safe, but on a superficial level. When I recognized the shallowness of my spiritual experience and it’s accompanying sense of safey and began to question, I was stepped into a completely unknown area which, while at first frightening, ultimately offered both a richer sense of Presence and grace and a surer sense of safety. Like being thrown into water and reacting in a panic because of the fear of drowning, only to find that I have not only have the ability to swim, but to breathe the very water that seemed so threatening while standing on the shore.

  2. Meredith, I agree about blind faith; it’s generally equivalent to choosing to sit in the pew of your grandfathers.”How is it that we become available to receiving the truth?”: the truth doesn’t eventuate until you take the act of faith. It’s like believing that you can swim or ride a bicycle; it doesn’t become true until you do it. Years ago I felt led to move 400 miles away to be a part of the Church of the Savior. It meant uprooting a family that had been in Winston-Salem for ten years with three children happy with their school experience. I labored over that question for some months. Then I asked one of my closest spiritual friends. He said, “Larry, don’t you know that you can’t make any mistake that the Lord can’t make right?” He was so right!

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  4. One of the challenges of the spiritual journey seems to be that of facing fears, of looking squarely into the unknown. Sitting in the safe pew of the grandfather, and superficially accepting religion without questioning leaves an inquiring mind spiritually hungry. Yet to venture out to the area of the unknown, into deeper waters is like taking that first ride on two thin wheels of the bicycle – it makes us tremble a bit. But really – where is there to fall? Would the waves of the spiritual sea truly overtake us? Could we truly make a mistake here from which there would be no return? What fears dominate or censor our exploration, and cause us to desperately cling to an imagined safety and security? I’m reminded of an experience of flying in a very small plane, and feeling very uneasy in the turbulence and rattling noise of the small engine. Fear kept coming over me, while I gripped, white knuckled, to the seat in front of me. And then, in a rational moment laced with fatalistic humor, I realized that clinging to anything on that plane would be futile in any kind of emergency. There was nothing solid to hold on to. Finally, I just let my grip go, and relaxed back into the seat, and for the first time, noticed the amazing view. Experience tells me that we are all gifted with a natural ability to swim in these spiritual waters, to let go into the majesty, and breathe deeply the same wondrous divinity that inspired Jesus.

  5. Thanks for that beautiful and powerful comment, Meredith.

  6. …and I thank you Larry for ‘seeding’ this comment.

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