O Me of Little Faith

O Me of Little Faith


Robert Cargill: The Skeptic in the Sanctuary

posted by Jason Boyett

bobcargill.jpgDr. Robert Cargill and I go back several years (I tell a bit of the story here in his Noah’s Ark debunking interview). I always appreciate his perspective, because he’s got pretty serious credentials as a scientist, a biblical scholar, and a man of faith. He has a seminary degree, a Ph.D. in Second Temple period archaeology, and is an expert on Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered (check out his work on the virtual reality Qumran Visualization Project). Bob used to teach Hebrew Bible and New Testament courses at Pepperdine and shows up every now and then on the History Channel.

And today he contributes the longest Voices of Doubt post yet. Give it a chance, though, because I think you will be challenged and encouraged by it. He tells a bit of his story, from a conservative evangelical upbringing into academia, and how he’s learned to find a sort of balance between faith of his youth and the science of his adulthood. He’s ended up in a place that really resonates with me spiritually.

It gives me hope. I hope it does the same for you.

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On the Virtue of Doubt: A Brief Autobiography of the Skeptic in the Sanctuary
by Robert Cargill, Ph.D.

“Skepticism is the beginning of faith.” — Oscar Wilde

Faith is a virtue; so too is doubt. Unfortunately, doubt has far too often been pitted against faith as a problem in need of faith’s solution. Within religious circles, doubt earns a double portion of scorn for being that which must be conquered, the faithless deficiency in need of divine remedy.

The New Testament perpetuates a bipolar understanding of doubt, setting it as faith’s undesirable opposite. For instance, in Matt. 14:31 Jesus says to Peter, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt (Grk: ???????)?” John 20:27 records Jesus’ response to “Doubting” Thomas’ demand for evidence of the crucifixion saying, “Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt (Grk: ???????), but believe.” In both cases, doubt is depicted as a virtueless trait to be overcome. In fact, Jesus goes on to praise further those who did not require proof. John 20:29 states, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”

Thus, the Bible seems to favor a simple faith that believes without proof and does not question teaching, but instead relies on the authority of the speaker, understood to be God, as validation. I soon began to ask if there were another way to understand doubt in a world, which unlike the time of Jesus now benefits from the practice of scientific inquiry. Like other biblical teachings endorsing slavery and subjugating women, I also questioned this simplistic view of doubt and wondered why so many biblical passages dismissed doubt out of hand.

I discovered that doubt and faith go together. Kahlil Gibran puts it this way: “Doubt is a pain too lonely to know that faith is his twin brother.” Or, if I may coin a scientific metaphor, doubt is the naturally selective force that drives the evolution and development of faith. Just like perseverance, which results from a self-induced desire to overcome repeated failures, and like discipline, which is a product of deliberate self-deprivation of particular desires, so too is doubt the vehicle that drives the maturation of faith. And like perseverance, discipline, and other forms of exercise, doubt is not the most pleasant of experiences, but whose alternative can be harmful to one’s health. As Voltaire stated, “Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.”

While the interplay between faith and doubt is daunting enough in the abstract, its lived manifestation fundamentally alters the foundational worldview of anyone who dares to wield the powerful sword of doubt. And that is precisely what I did.

I was raised in a Christian household (Churches of Christ) following a literalist interpretation of Scripture. The Bible said it, and that settled it, regardless of whether or not I believed it. The claims made in the Bible were unquestionable, historical fact. The Bible was infallible and inerrant, and those who dared dispute these eternally true principles were heretics in need of prayers for their souls.

My views changed during my undergraduate years as a pre-med human physiology major at CSU Fresno, where I was formally introduced to the scientific method, natural selection, and human evolution. As a Christian, I resisted this compelling new information not because of its lack of cogency or rational appeal, but because it differed from what I already believed. Still, the alternative worldview from which my parents had striven to protect me had been planted deep within my brain, and it was through this entry point — human evolution by natural selection — that doubt first gained a foothold and began to generate its thought-provoking questions in my curious mind.

I was convinced by the verifiable methods of science, but I resisted its inevitable requirement of vanquishing of my long-held belief in biblical creation. Like the child not wanting to give up on Santa, I simply did not want to admit that what I had believed all these years had been wrong. I chose instead to hold the two views — evolution and creation — in necessary tension rather than choose between the two incompatible options. It was not until I enrolled in Pepperdine University and began my Master of Divinity studies that I fully accepted human evolution through natural selection.

Ironically, it was not an understanding of Darwin’s theory that caused me to accept evolution, but rather my literary-critical studies of the Bible that convinced me of the imperfections of the text and opened the door to a full acceptance of evolution and science. This epiphany — that the Bible is not inerrant and need not be in order to convey truth — allowed me to rethink the nature of God in a way I could never have imagined nor would have been permitted in my former, juvenile way of thinking. And there I stood, an evolutionist at Pepperdine questioning all I had been taught, a skeptic in the sanctuary, thinking that I couldn’t be the only one here, but quite cognizant of the consequences of asking that question aloud.

After receiving my M.Div., I attempted to assuage my conflicted mind by taking a job building websites for non-profit and charitable organizations. But the questions lingered, and my thirst for answers led me to pursue doctoral studies at UCLA, studying biblical studies and archaeology (religion and science at their highest levels). I retained my ties to Pepperdine and the church I attend to this day. But my studies of science and the Bible — made possible by my doubt — have changed the way I understand the world, the Bible, and God. I no longer accept a six-day creation (24-hour or otherwise). I do not accept a worldwide flood. I do not accept Adam and Eve, talking snakes and donkeys, people turning into pillars of salt, the sun standing still, a firmament that holds back the waters above, a historical Exodus (early or late), or offspring that resemble what the parents were looking at during sex (Gen. 30:37-43).

These stories are etiologies that attempted to explain natural phenomena at a time before science was available to explain them. They were the best attempts of their time to bring reason and purpose to what humans witnessed everyday. However, the historicity of these early myths is not necessary to convey the truth of the biblical message, which is a love of one’s neighbor and the beneficial service of others. As the early Christian scholar Origen said, “Spiritual truth was often preserved, as one might say, in material falsehood.”

The problem, of course, with dismissing biblical creation and the flood is that Jesus mentions both of them (Mark 10:6 and Matt. 24:38-39). Christians are reluctant to let go of creation and the flood, because doing so places Jesus in the awkward position of repeating mythological stories that are not historical. An even greater problem for some with conceding that much of the Bible is not historical is that the result is not an exclusively “Christian” God. While some aspects of biblical historicity may be discounted and a distinctively Christian understanding of God retained, the honest scholar must concede that, followed to its logical end, the resulting view of God is more like a cosmic God — a prime mover that better resembles a deistic God of the early universe — than it is the personal, pocket God of modern evangelical Christianity.

And it is this contemplation of the theological chessboard seven moves from now that terrifies most Christian scholars into an immobilizing silence — within both the academy and the church — and stops them from taking the next step or even speaking aloud of its consideration. I am here to tell you, it’s OK. Some may call you a heretic, but coming out of the skeptical closet will free you to understand faith in a whole new way.

Of course, evangelicals, fundamentalists, conservatives, and biblical literalists will use my story as Exhibit A in the case of why we should not educate our children anywhere but a private, Christian institution of one’s own denominational heritage. For if they are not protected, children may be exposed to thoughts and ideas and facts and theories that are different from what their parents taught them. But, this only further demonstrates why we should encourage our children to go and explore and discover new thoughts and ideas – for it is only when opportunities, education, and experiences are limited that fundamentalists and biblical literalists retain their influence.

Christians must have the faith to doubt and ask the hard questions. If God is who the Bible claims he is, he can stand a few pointed questions. True faith is the confidence that God can survive human reasoning; for what God worth worshipping cannot withstand a few logical arguments?

Doubt and curious inquiry are the driving forces behind the acquisition of true knowledge. Thus, doubt is not treason against faith, but against doctrine and dogma — claims of truth based solely upon authority and tradition, not on methodical, persistent, and rational inquiry. In fact, I shall go so far as to assert that real faith today is often confused with doubt itself. My colleague, Dr. James McGrath of Butler University, said it best in a recent composition:

What fundamentalists call “faith” looks surprisingly like “doubt,” and what they consider “doubt” at the very least demonstrates a greater amount of “faith” than their own so-called “faith.”

Fundamentalists increasingly take measures to try to insulate themselves, and in particular their children, from other viewpoints, and in particular discussions of topics related to science or the academic study of the Bible. Where, in such actions, is any expression of faith that God will watch over them, or even faith that honest seeking after answers and consideration of the evidence will lead to the truth, and that that is a good thing? Where is faith that there is power in their message and the gates of hell cannot withstand it?

Instead, the behavior of many extreme fundamentalists reveals what they really have, deep down: doubt, fear, and uncertainty. If there is one thing that they seem in general to be certain of, it is that exposure to intelligent, rational discussion is something dangerous.

Those who refrain from asking the penetrating questions and who teach their children to do likewise are not exhibiting faith; rather, they are betraying their glaring doubt that God and their tenuous system of beliefs can survive simple inquiry.

No doubt, the brief autobiography above will cause fundamentalists to condemn my heretical betrayal of the faith and arrogant reliance on the “thoughts of men;” the steadfast to show concern for my vacillation; atheists to praise my courage; Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and fellow Pepperdine alum Michael Shermer to chastise me for not taking the final step of abandoning religion altogether; and my mother to pray for my soul.

But this is where I stand: atop the continental divide between faith and science, with one foot in the range of rigorous academic inquiry and skeptical scrutiny, and the other on the often slippery slope of competing religious worldviews. And from this marvelous vantage point I can survey both directions and ask difficult questions of both faith and reason. I imagine that I’ll spend the remainder of my career here, the ever-searching soul attempting to mediate between the two.

I still pray, but not as much for faith as I do for the wisdom to make sense of the knowledge I accumulate, and for the courage of my convictions to live out the life of advocacy for social and individual justice that we are called to pursue. And it is on this point — the pursuit of a life of service to others — that Theists and Secular Humanists, Christians and agnostics agree. For the sheep were not separated from the goats in Matt. 25 because of their correct beliefs, nor as a result of their orthodox theology, but because of their service to others. They fed the hungry. They clothed the naked. They visited the sick. 1 Cor. 13:13 does not say, “And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is doctrine,” but “love.” It is love that separates the true believer from the unbeliever, the faithful from the faithless. Love is faith made manifest, fertilized by doubt.

In the end, what you believe is simply not as important as what you do for others. If Christians are saved by faith, it is obedient faith in a Messiah who commanded us to serve others. And if they exist, heaven and hell will take care of themselves if you do what you’ve been asked to do. Stop worrying about life after death and live the one before it. Live a life of service. And in the mean time, ask the hard questions. Doubt everything. Challenge those in authority, respectfully, but directly. Demand explanations and require others to cite sources for all claims made. Embrace science and understand myths for what they are: early attempts to explain a world before science while communicating cultural ideals. And remember: true knowledge is the result of doubt, not blind faith, for “only the one who knows nothing doubts nothing.”

As the Chinese proverb says, “With great doubts come great understanding; with little doubts come little understanding.”

————-

Thank you, Bob. You can keep up with Dr. Cargill at his blog, on Twitter, on Facebook, on YouTube, and a lot of other places via his official website at bobcargill.com.

Previous posts in the “Voices of Doubt” series…

Dana Ellis: Haunted by Questions
Rachel Held Evans on Works-Based Salvation
Winn Collier: Doubt Better
Tyler Clark on Losing Fear, Losing Faith
Rob Stennett on the Genesis of Doubt
Adam Ellis on Hoping That It’s True
Nicole Wick on Breaking Up with God
Anna Broadway on Doubt and Marriage



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Comments read comments(23)
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Glen

posted September 10, 2010 at 9:50 am


Brilliant! Thank you, Dr. Cargill, for expressing so eloquently where so many of us are at.



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Marv Borst

posted September 10, 2010 at 9:56 am


Gee, don’t find this very encouraging Jason. Have really enjoyed this series however, and have found encouragement in many of the guest blogs. Think I’m bothered by the insistence by this guest of being right about the scientific evidence. I’m no expert, but my study has shown holes in all the theories, biblical and scientific. Sigh, the struggle to live in the tension goes on!



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Steven Carr

posted September 10, 2010 at 11:24 am


Of course, if a Christian really did have a personal relationship with Jesus, and really had been indwelt by the Holy Spirit, they could no more doubt than people could doubt they have a mother,or could no more doubt than the disciples when they saw Moses return from the dead to speak to Jesus.
But these experiences are rare, and are not actual visitations by the Holy Spirit.
And the disciples could never have seen Moses return from the dead to speak to Jesus, as they doubted.
The existence of doubt proves false the Christian story of experiences which would eliminate doubt – if they really occurred.



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like a child

posted September 10, 2010 at 11:26 am


I can understand why Marv Borst feels the way he does. While I agree with what much of Cargill does say with respect to what he doesn’t believe, I’m unsure as to why he still holds to the Christian faith (and that is not a criticism, it is a sincere question from someone who is terribly perplexed – i.e. me).
Cargill states: “But my studies of science and the Bible — made possible by my doubt — have changed the way I understand the world, the Bible, and God. I no longer accept a six-day creation (24-hour or otherwise). I do not accept a worldwide flood. I do not accept Adam and Eve, talking snakes and donkeys, people turning into pillars of salt…..” Though I favor Cargill’s interpretation, this type of rationality leads me to doubt the Gospels as well, thereby removing the foundation of my faith. Cargill states, “In the end, what you believe is simply not as important as what you do for others.” Yet, the question is why you have this sense of compassion and love for humankind. Is it due to Christian faith, or a evolutionary need, or a sense of ethics…what? Again, “loving others” is not sufficient for me to hold on to Christianity, nor will it make me comfortable in the church. Thus, while I like this post, I do think we need to focus on the essentials as well. What is truth, and what is conjecture? Again, I intend no criticism, I am just earnestly seeking a way to still hold on to Christianity. Some doubt is healthy, but the level of my doubt is destructive.
Read more: http://blog.beliefnet.com/omeoflittlefaith/2010/09/robert-cargill-skeptic-sanctuary.html#ixzz0z8knWTcA



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ahumanoid

posted September 10, 2010 at 12:18 pm


This “voice of doubt” was perhaps my favorite so far. Thanks for sharing, Dr. Cargill.
I do, however, wonder how you can say with certainty that much of the O.T. was myth? I have no problem with that if it is, in fact, the truth. But what evidence gave you such certainty about your view of the O.T.?
Personally, while I lean towards your view, I’m not certain that I’m right about it. I’d be very interested in learning what convinced you of that perspective.



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Tony Turner

posted September 10, 2010 at 2:34 pm


Another example of getting lots of education and little wisdom. Service (works) alone will not get you into heaven. It takes faith as well. I will pray that Dr. Cargill will truly get the wisdom he needs to allow him to trust Jesus.
Last point- worrying about life after death should make it easier to live the life Dr. Cargill believes you should live. If there is no reward, why serve others? I serve others as a condition of my faith in God and the promise of everlasting life with Him in heaven.



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@LaureeAshcom

posted September 10, 2010 at 3:36 pm


i have enjoyed this whole series…. i also enjoyed the earlier post with dr. cargill… there are many questions dancing around the edges of my brain that currently have no words.
as i read this the one thought that came repeatedly was that dr cargill was saying “you know, i am just too smart for god.” true or not…. that is how i feel.



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Sylvia

posted September 10, 2010 at 4:25 pm


Thanks for sharing this great post.



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robert r. cargill

posted September 10, 2010 at 4:39 pm


@like a child
thanx for your response.
you’ve asked the million dollar question. it’s easier for many scholars to refute ot myths as ahistorical. but, if we are fair with the text, we must be willing to do the same with the nt, and that is where things get touchy for some xns. some scholars did this a few years ago, and the ‘jesus seminar’ scholars were vilified as heretics. but the fact is, many of the things described in the nt are either not historical or are no longer socially acceptable. (i’m thinking slavery, the subjugation of women, and a i’ve argued on several occasions, the way some xns still treat homosexuals.) likewise, stories about jesus’s genealogies (matt and luke don’t match), the virgin birth (which the earliest gospel, mark, didn’t bother with and which john turned into a cosmic incarnation), jesus’ actual birth (did shepherds or magi visit him), etc. all appear to be problematic, later additions to jesus’ life story.
the problem is, of course, that xns who understand the nt as ‘inerrant’ or ‘infallible’ reach a point of cognitive dissonance, because they cannot reconcile a ‘perfect’ text with the literary data that shows conflicts with in the text (to say nothing of a historical setting and the supernatural claims made). that is, one’s prior beliefs don’t gel with the new experience. in this case, a choice must be made. one can either deny the experience (in this case, new evidence over the course of a lifetime of study) and cling to prior beliefs, or, reject the previously held beliefs, embrace the experience, and rethink how one understands god, life, humanity, etc.
that latter choice, requires a *great* deal of faith. most choose to cling to what they were taught or already believed, and try to find some good reason to reject the new data. others constantly seek out deeper understanding of the text. for some, it’s just too much to overcome, but for others, there is faith enough to venture forth.
thanx again for your comment. the response is another essay in itself. ;-)



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robert r. cargill

posted September 10, 2010 at 4:47 pm


@ahumanoid
like ‘like a child’ above, you raise an interesting question about evidence. imho, the scientific date unanimously counters many of the biblical claims, while the internal textual data points to origins of many stories from earlier stories. (cf. gilgamesh, atra-hasis, deir ‘alla inscription) likewise, many of the examples i cited above are etiologies that conveyed the popular thinking at the time.
the question is, can the bible convey truth elsewhere even if some of its stories are not historical? i’d argue that jesus did it a lot: they’re called parables. jesus made up stories to convey truth. did jesus really witness a man get robbed on the road to jericho? if so, why didn’t he help him? why did he let a priest, a levite, and a samaritan go by? or was jesus really doing the peeping tom thing through the window of a woman who lost one of her ten coins? people (including jesus) use non-historical stories to convey truth. over time, some of them become believed as historical.



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your new fan

posted September 10, 2010 at 5:11 pm


Great sentiments.
Thanks for your honesty.
Great conclusions, as well.
Bravo, my friend!



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robert r. cargill

posted September 10, 2010 at 6:18 pm


@ Tony Turner
thanx for your comment. and i always appreciate the sincere prayers of others. ;-)
you are correct: works alone will not get one into heaven, but neither will a particular set of beliefs that never translate into lived action. i would argue that the ‘faith’ mentioned throughout the bible is *never* simply thought, but is *always* understood as obedience, that is, an action compelled by one’s ‘faith.’ you’ll note that the faith mentioned in hebrews 11 does *not* describe a list of *beliefs*, but a list of *actions*.
regarding your last point (life after death), that is the very question i ask my freshmen every year when we discuss the book of job: would you worship god or act righteously if there were no heaven or hell? must one require a reward to act righteously? i’d argue that if you answer that question with ‘yes,’ xnty is reduced to nothing more than posthumous capitalism: an earthly investment paying out a heavenly reward. in this system, righteous actions are merely means to an end.
instead, people of faith should act justly/morally even if there were no heaven or hell. in this system, kindness and just actions are ends in themselves (cf. hab. 2:4). one obeys god *because he’s god*, and not because one gets a prize for doing so. we teach our children that they should behave properly even if there is no weekly allowance. proper behavior should not require a carrot. people of faith should not serve others and/or worship/obey god *only* on the condition that he gives us something in exchange, as if to concede that if there’s nothing in it for you, you wouldn’t follow god. instead, mature persons of faith should realize that doing what’s right is right, even if there’s nothing in it for us.



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robert r. cargill

posted September 10, 2010 at 6:23 pm


@LaureeAshcom
thanx for your comment. actually, my wife has used this line on occasion with me ;-)
i see the position i described in my essay above not as arrogance, but as humility. let me explain. there is an old saying: ‘those who know don’t speak. those who speak don’t know.’ i’m not sure if that’s completely true (especially as a teacher ;-), but i do like what the adage is attempting to express. it seems that those who know the least shout the loudest. however, those who actually give true thought and contemplation to matters as complex as god and faith usually reserve their judgment, or at least don’t make claims of absolute certainty, rather, they spend most of their time listening and thinking.
the beauty of doubt is it keeps us humble; we’re never so cocky, never so sure of what is right and wrong that we make statements of absolute fact. rather, true bible scholars couch their opinions with the latest data we have to this point. proof is never the final word, it’s the best word thus far. i always tell my students that the person who says ‘i know the answer. i’ve got it all figured out’ is a liar. scholars, and i believe all people, should never feel like they’ve got it all figured out. the more i learn the more i realize i don’t know. how much more is this true in matters of faith and god, where there is so little empirical evidence?
i was asked to write an essay describing my journey and what i think. and that’s what i did. it’s where i am. if it resonates with you, then you are welcome to use it. it may not work for others. but my above essay comes from a point of humility, openly admitting there is so much we don’t yet know. until then, i’ll counter my doubt with something that’s not quite fact, but aspires to be. if only there were a name for that… ;-)



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Catherine

posted September 10, 2010 at 6:38 pm


Re the Samaritan story, why assume that Jesus was a witness or that it was simply a moral fable? Jesus could have heard the story from the injured man, now well again and telling his adventures at a dinner party somewhere. After all, Jesus did a lot of socialising. I’ll bet lots of his stories came from the experiences of friends and acquaintances, just as many of the stories we pass on in conversation do. I don’t think we have to assume his stories were all either experienced by him or completely made up for teaching purposes.



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ahumanoid

posted September 10, 2010 at 6:49 pm


Thanks much for your response, Dr. Cargill. I’d greatly appreciate it if you could possibly recommend a book on Biblical higher criticism that you believe presents the facts in an objective manner.
Thanks again for your response.



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Steven Carr

posted September 12, 2010 at 3:15 pm


‘in this system, kindness and just actions are ends in themselves (cf. hab. 2:4). one obeys god *because he’s god*, and not because one gets a prize for doing so.’
A wise man had something to say on this very subject.
‘But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.’



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robert r. cargill

posted September 12, 2010 at 8:13 pm


@steven carr
thanx for your comment.
if come need a prize in order to do what’s right, then that’s ok.
and there is certainly a multi-tiered system of moral incentive in the bible, especially the nt. the perfect example of this is the ‘left hand’ verses (matt 6:3 and matt 25:31-46). in matt. 6:2-4, there is an incentive for giving (reward in heaven), but only for those who disguise their righteousness from others. later in matt 25:31-46, there is a reward (the kingdom), but apparently only for those who acted in a selfless manner not expecting the reward. just as the author of hebrews says in 5:11-14, there are different levels for different believers. some are infants and only drink milk, while others are mature and can handle meat. when a child is first learning, an allowance serves as an incentive for proper behavior. however (and hopefully) there comes a day when that child realizes why it is better to give the present (say, at christmas) than receive one. good parents learn this: you give (again, hopefully) not to buy the child’s love, but because you genuinely want to give; not for a prize, but because of the act itself. this multi-tiered system of weak v. strong/mature is addressed by paul in rom. 14. some people’s faith allow them to do more, while the weaker feel they should refrain from some liberties.
there’s no getting around that heaven is offered as a reward to the faithful. my point is that the mature who truly understand faith shouldn’t need it.
thanx again for your comment.
bc



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Steven Carr

posted September 13, 2010 at 5:25 am


‘some are infants and only drink milk, while others are mature and can handle meat. ‘
This comes from 1 Corinthians, I believe.
Apparently, Paul told the Corinthians all about Jesus sayings, his deeds, his miracles, his resurrection, his feeding the 5000, his seeing Moses and Elijah at the Transfiguration.
All of that oral tradition about the life and deeds of the Saviour would have been mere ‘milk’, until the Corinthians were ready for the ‘meat’.
Or perhaps there just wasn’t any ‘oral tradition’ about the teachings of Jesus, as there is no way on God’s earth that Paul could have classified that as ‘milk’
‘my point is that the mature who truly understand faith shouldn’t need it.’
The mature who truly understand faith shouldn’t need it. It is only the rest of the believers who have to read the Sermon on the Mount about rewards.
So ‘Matthew’ kindly wrote a speech for Jesus to have,and put those words in his mouth.



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Tony Turner

posted September 13, 2010 at 3:31 pm


Dr. Cargill,
I agree that people should act morally regardless of a promise of reward, but having a promise of an everlasting reward makes it that much sweeter. Let me tell you about my journey of faith so you may realize how I got to where I am. Also understand that I realize my walk of faith is never over till I am put in the ground.
My spiritual journey could not be more of a polar opposite than yours. I grew up completely unchurched and fairly immoral. If it felt good, I did it, or wanted to do it. I thought I was a good person because I never tried to hurt anyone and would make token attempts to help others. I was a true skeptic of Christianity, God, etc. I didn’t see the need.
Then, I started to wonder if life couldn’t be better than what I was experiencing.There had to be more to it. Enter God, but not in the most direct manner. He sent me a messenger of his grace– my future wife. She took me to Church (Church of Christ)and within a short time it all just made sense. I knew that God wanted me to serve others and that I had a promise of everlasting life. The promise made it lots easier to break out of my past ways to become a true servant. Now I do it because I really like to, not only because of the reward.
Now, I have traveled the world (retired Army) and have a decent level of education (MA Psychology), so I didn’t just fall of the turnip truck. I was a fairly hardened and cynical person. Now, however, I have full faith in the word of God, as it is in the bible. If I am right, I will have everlasting life in heaven. If I am wrong, the worst case is that I will have lived a good, moral life as a servant to others. What’s the downside?
I will keep you in my prayers. BTW, I loved your special on the Dead Sea Scrolls. I spent some time there myself, and it brought back fond memories.



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Headless Unicorn Guy

posted September 14, 2010 at 12:29 am


For the sheep were not separated from the goats in Matt. 25 because of their correct beliefs, nor as a result of their orthodox theology, but because of their service to others.
Unless your source for the sheep-and-goats scene is Left Behind: Volume 12. There the Returned Christ DOES separate the sheep and goats according to their acceptance or rejection of — EVOLUTION! Specifically mentioning “teaching the Lie of Evolution” as the reason for the damnation of their (wimpy) Antichrist. I am not making this up :)



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Bryan

posted September 21, 2010 at 3:54 pm


How are Mark 10:6 and Matt. 24:38-39 problems with the creation/flood story? As for the deist statements, I still see the God that is separate from and superior to created beings. Isaiah 55:8.
Furthermore, why does logic have to go out the window because one chooses to believe? Psalms 14:1. From your tone it sounds as if you don’t believe in the Spirit of God either or prophecy. Do you also feel that Daniel and the relevant historical fulfillments cannot be trusted? I Thess. 5:20.
My point is that when the Bible is trusted as the Living Word of God (taken as an agreeing whole) a new realm of understanding is discovered by the believer. Call it passion or divine guidance..either way, skepticism is a hindrance. Romans 1:17-25; Psalms 14:1.
Two questions:
1)Why do you quote Scripture at all if you discard of it where you please?
2)Could it be said that your ideas in the last two paragraphs are an overstatement of the 2 verses you provided?



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Christina Harrell

posted January 25, 2011 at 11:28 am


I find myself with much to say, but after further contemplation will keep it simple and state without elaboration that this was very well-written and exceptionally poignant. Thank you.



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More blogs to enjoy!!!
Thank you for visiting O Me Of Little Faith. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here are some other blogs you may also enjoy: Red Letters with Tom Davis Recent prayer post on Prayables Most Recent Inspiration blog post Happy Reading!

posted 2:25:22pm Aug. 27, 2012 | read full post »

Farewell, O Me of Little Faith
You said you had a big announcement coming today. What is it? The announcement is this: Right now you are reading the final post on this blog. Ever. Ever? Ever. So you're shutting this blog down? Well, I'm going to stop writing any new posts for it. But the blog will still be here. Th

posted 6:11:49am Jun. 01, 2011 | read full post »

My Introvert Interview
On Monday, author Adam McHugh delivered a guest post about the "snarling 8-headed monster" of the writing process. Today I return the favor -- sort of -- via an interview at his blog, Introverted Church. We talk about how my introverted personality has impacted my faith and doubt, and how the extrov

posted 3:05:36pm May. 25, 2011 | read full post »

Harold Camping: "Invisible Judgment Day"
When the rapture didn't occur as predicted on May 21, 2011, Harold Camping had a few options. Here is how he could have responded to the failed prediction, in descending levels of crazy: 1. He could announce that he was wrong. This is the most reasonable option and was therefore unexpected. I wou

posted 9:06:24am May. 24, 2011 | read full post »

The Phases of Writing (Adam McHugh)
If you've ever felt out of place among all the exciting, expressive, emotional enthusiasm of a contemporary church service...or an evangelist's demands that you need to constantly be sharing your faith boldly to strangers...if it simply wipes you out to be surrounded by people all the time,  then y

posted 7:46:00am May. 23, 2011 | read full post »




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