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There lives more faith in honest doubt,
Believe me, than in half the creeds
So wrote old Tennyson in In Memoriam, a poem I doubt many now read. When they did, it was the fashion of some to quote these lines as though Tennyson himself approved of such a position, but no honest reading of it can support that line, as it goes on to describe the way in which the poet overcame his doubts. But it is natural that from time to time men should have their doubts – and so when the Archbishop of Canterbury confesses that he had his doubts about the presence of God after the Paris massacres, that should occasion neither surprise nor criticism – though it has done both. His own view in his own words can be found here, and should be read before anyone casts aspersions.
What is called ‘theodicy’ – the question of why bad things happen to good people, has perplexed us all from time to time, I should guess. Chalcedon passed this on to me from one of his sons, who is a Pastor in Stoke, and it seems to me to answer the question of how we should react pretty well:
So what do we say? We go to the cross, first of all, where God is most present IN the suffering and dying one. And we go to the empty tomb, where we see the victory of God. Then we go to the end of this story, to the Second Advent, and the day of God’s Judgement of the world. Yes, there are times when this world’s evil causes doubts, and our response must be to fight those doubts, and overcome them by the Cross.
Hard to beat that, I think.
Christ knew this world’s keenest woes, and he took them upon himself that our sins should be remitted. But he could not drive out of this world the stain or original sin, nor could he save us, in this world, from its consequences. So, bad things will happen, not because of God, but because of sin – our sin and the sinfulness of others. There is one remedy only, and that is in the Cross of Christ. If you doubt it, then ask where else a remedy is to be had? Save for Christ, there is none. There can be the dulling of it all by indulgence in sin which will soon take our minds off what ails us – only to leave us with a spiritual hangover of immense proportions. Sin is sin and it means to destroy us. The evil deeds of ISIS come from where all evil originates – the devil who encompassed our fall. Salvation comes from where it has always come from – the name of Jesus. In him alone are we made righteous, and in him alone do we have eternal life. As Paul tells us:
And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.