We need to acknowledge, even embrace, both the doubts and the hope of our faith, says Nick Fiedler, author of The Hopeful Skeptic. Thinkfwd host, Spencer Burke, and Nick talk together about some of the topics that Nick wrestles with in his life and book—like scripture, church structure, and prayer.
A year into his marriage, as he was packing to leave his desk job and travel for a year, Nick was debating what to take with him and what to leave behind. He thought, “What if I leave behind the label “Christian?” And if I don’t take that label, what DO I take? What do I call myself? He came up with the idea of the Hopeful Skeptic, believing that even the most secure in their faith have doubts. The historic figures of great faith and great minds dealt with issues of doubt, pride, and problems with religious systems. With this in mind, he began that year of journey into both faith and doubt.
Up front, Nick tells us that even if he’s questioning, talking about Christianity for him is like talking about a family member—he does it out of love and relationship. And along the way, he questions Scripture. It is a valid, transforming and important voice. But what makes us skeptical about it? Is it the multiple translations? The length of time over which is what written? Let’s tease out the questions and talk about the things that raise doubts.
What about church structure? Nick worked in a church, but there are things about churches that drive him crazy. And when he needed to ask deep questions, there was no place within his church structure that allowed him to ask.
And what, really, is prayer? Rather than asking for things, Nick has found prayer to be looking for, asking for, internal change—to be actively involved in seeking change.
So given the fact that people have doubts about major elements of our faith like the Bible and prayer, what gives us hope? For Nick, it is seeing communities of hope that say, “Yes, there are problems, but we can do things differently to address those problems.” He sees groups that are living in community. He sees churches that use money in a way that is hopeful. When you feel like there isn’t any hope, look for groups that are doing things differently, and be that difference yourself.