Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Opposite of Faith is Certainty

The following is a talk presented to Grace Connection on June 22, 2002, by Heather Isaacs, then a graduate student at San Francisco Theological Seminary.

“The opposite of faith is certainty.” Dean Alan Jones of Grace Cathedral on NPR last September. When I first heard these words last fall, I was midway through a very difficult semester in my first year at seminary. I was in a spiritual and intellectual freefall. All of my fundamental beliefs about God, the world, and myself had been wrecked. A friend of mine likened the first year of seminary as “spiritual bootcamp” where we were systematically broken down to our basic components only to be rebuilt. It did feel like that. Every day another ideological rug pulled out from underneath you. The funny thing was that I had come to seminary believing I had already had MY faith tested. But I had no idea what the year would bring. I had no idea that I was going to lose faith completely. So when I heard this statement: “The opposite of faith is certainty,” I felt this was the key to the start of my return to faith. I didn’t have to KNOW anything to believe. Coming from a tradition that likes to proof-text every doctrine I felt liberated from KNOWING.

But that hasn’t meant I wouldn’t like to know sometimes. Especially when I don’t have answers to questions that people I love are struggling with. Just recently, two friends on two separate occasions shared with me how alienated they feel within Adventism. Both of these friends were, like I was, raised in the church. We all attended PUC together. We each have aspirations of working for the denomination in our respective fields. But we each have had the common experience of feeling unwanted, unwelcome.

Click here to read the rest of this sermon.

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