Monday, December 31, 2012

Confronting Our Doubts

Welcome to my blog site on religious faith.

For the first couple of months, most of my posts will concern a sermon series that I am preaching at Meriden United Methodist Church in Meriden, Kansas.  The series is entitled, "Confronting Our Doubts."  Here's a short description of the series and a listing of the various topics: 

When we’re honest with ourselves, most of us have doubts or questions about the Christian faith.  Frequently, we are ashamed of our doubts.  Even worse, our doubts create a wedge between us and God.  We think to ourselves, “How could God love me, if I have all these questions about God?”  Or, we stay away from church because we think that we would not really be welcome if people knew that we have these doubts about religious faith.  But, confronting our doubts can lead to spiritual growth and renewal.

Topics and Dates in the Sermon Series:
January 6         “Is It OK to Doubt?”  
January 13       “Is the Bible Literally True?” 
January 20       “Can I Be Christian and Also Accept Evolution?”
January 27       “How Can I Believe When the Church Lets Me Down?”
February  3      “What About Other Religions?”
February 10     “Is It OK to be Angry with God?”
February 17     Basketball Sunday
February 24     “Why Does God Allow Bad Things to Happen?”
March 3           “Can I Be Christian and Gay?”

Obviously, these topics are not only the source of doubts, but they can be very controversial.  When dealing with controversial issues, I think it is always best to have an open mind, to treat everyone civilly, and try to really learn from the perspectives of those whom I disagree with.  I have previously taught ethics in a divinity school and in a medical school.  When teaching in both the divinity and medical schools, I always began the course by reminding my students that their best friends in my course should be those with whom they disagreed with the most. 

You see, if we only talk with those whom we already agree, then we will simply reinforce one another's established position.  But, talking with those whom we disagree with, forces and challenges us to re-examine our established position, along with our unexamined assumptions.  It forces us to think deeper and more carefully about our established position, and this is very important.

Preaching a sermon series on doubt is good because it is through my sermons each week that I am able to reach the greatest number of my parishioners.  Unfortunately, within the context of a worship service, I am the only one who gets to do much speaking.  My hope is that this blog can become one of the forums for continuing the discussion after the sermon.  I want to hear from everyone--regardless of whether you agree or disagree with me.  I want to learn from you because I certainly can grow much deeper and wiser in my understanding of these topics.  So, please feel free to respond to my blogs.  My only requirement is that everyone remains civil toward others posting on my blog.

I'll also use this blog to post a brief introduction to each sermon to be preached the next Sunday.  So, check on this blog in the next 24-48 hours to see a preview of the first sermon on January 6th. 

If you live in the Meriden-area and you don't have a church home, then check us out at 100 South Dawson, at the intersection with Main Street.  Our Worship Service is every Sunday morning at 10 am.  We are an open, accepting congregation, eager to welcome you no matter what you've done in the past.  We believe, fundamentally, that God loves you deeply.  So, come and check us out--and please keep visiting and commenting on my blog.