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I’m sure you heard about President Obama’s commencement address at Notre Dame over the weekend. It was not without some controversy among pro-life groups at the Catholic university. He addressed the abortion issue by calling for a reduction in abortions, working to reduce unplanned pregnancies, promoting adoption and working to care for mothers who do carry their children to term. And he called for these steps while also honoring the conscience of those on both sides, whether they’re pro-life or pro-choice, even though both sides won’t likely ever reconcile.
But that’s not what caught my attention about his speech. The part I loved was this statement about faith and doubt, as the President challenged the students to hold tight to the religious and moral values they’d been taught at Notre Dame. “Stand as a lighthouse,” he told them…
…But remember too that the ultimate irony of faith is that it necessarily admits doubt. It is the belief in things not seen. It is beyond our capacity as human beings to know with certainty what God has planned for us or what He asks of us, and those of us who believe must trust that His wisdom is greater than our own.
This doubt should not push us away from our faith. But it should humble us. It should temper our passions, and cause us to be wary of self-righteousness.
I love that last line, and it’s something I discuss in O Me of Little Faith, which releases next year from Zondervan. Doubt and faith are not polar opposites, but companions. And doubt is not entirely negative. It keeps us humble. It keeps us from arrogance. It helps us remember that our understanding is limited. And in a world of religious extremism (Christian and otherwise), those are good things — very good things.
[Thanks, Matt, for the tip.]