Needing a saint to pray for you.

by K.W. Leslie, 07 June

I know; the title might give you the idea I’m writing about praying to the saints in heaven. It’s an Orthodox, Roman Catholics, Lutheran, and Anglican practice—’cause they believe God resurrected the saints in heaven, so they’re alive. (So no, they’re not praying to dead people.) And same as prayer is talking with God, prayer to those saints is talking with those saints. So they figure, “Why not?” and bring their prayer needs to them—“Can you help me out with this?”

Jesus’s brother St. Jude, fr’instance. If you have a hopeless or desperate cause, popular belief is he’s the guy to go to; he specializes in prayers for hopeless causes.

This may be mighty Evangelical of me, but I still figure it makes way more sense to pray directly to Jesus. Nothing against his brother (or even his mom) but all Jude’s really gonna do is forward the prayer to his heavenly Father… and heck, I could talk to God. I already do.

Thing is, even good Evangelicals regularly go to saints with our prayer requests.

Yes we do. I’m talking about the saints here on earth. Living Christians. Like your pastor, or one of the elders in your church: “Can you pray for me about this?” We ask ’em to do the very same thing people ask of St. Jude. We have a really important request, feel it’s either a big ask or a hopeless cause, so we don’t trust our own prayers to work. So we figure we’d better go to someone who’s really good at prayer. Someone God is known to listen to.

Again, just like St. Jude. There is no difference between a Catholic praying to Jude, and a Baptist asking Pastor to keep her in his prayers. People who ask others to pray for them, on earth or in heaven, are attempting the very same thing: They want the prayers of a professional. An expert. Someone holier than them. You know, a saint.

God listens to saints, right? So their prayers oughta get better results than ours.

Not going to church is heresy.

by K.W. Leslie, 06 June

Yeah, this article’s title, “Not going to church is heresy,” is gonna be provocative. Mostly because most people don’t understand what heresy means. It means “not orthodox”—when people don’t believe what Christians have historically believed, and oughta believe, because to believe otherwise is gonna lead us away from Jesus. Most people presume heresy means “a belief that’ll send you to hell.” No; we’re saved by grace, remember? Not good works. And our belief system (our “faith,” if you wanna call it that) is a good work.

Going to church is one of those good works. Jesus created the church when he picked the apostles and told ’em to go make him more followers. Which they did; which we still do, I hope! And he expects us followers to fellowship. That means we talk about Jesus with one another, share what he’s done in our lives, encourage one another, confess shortcomings and sins if necessary, pray together, worship together, do sacraments together, listen to some teachings about Jesus together… in other words, do church. Go to church!

But people don’t wanna.

Which I get. There’s many times I didn’t wanna. I wanted to sleep in on Sunday mornings like a pagan. I wanted to listen to anything other than my pastor’s sermon series—either it was full of stuff I already know, or it’s full of stuff I don’t believe. I likewise wanted to listen to anything other than the worship music: Our worship pastor didn’t care to stay current with music, and was stuck in the 1980s… as you could tell by his wardrobe. And I wanted to avoid the jerks in my church who just frustrated me about how much partisanship has infiltrated American Evangelical Christianity, and made us less patient, generous, kind, and gracious.

Plus nowadays there are entire church services on YouTube! Didn’t have those 20 years ago; at most we had radio, and Christian radio shows are often just sermons, abridged to 25 minutes, or edited into two or three parts. But I could watch video church instead! I could even watch ’em from the bathroom, during my high-fiber-cereal-induced B.M. I love modern technology.

But. But but but.

All these things are convenient substitutes for the Sunday morning services. And while the coronavirus pandemic was raging in 2020, they were a godsend. But do I need to remind you Sunday morning services are not church? Guess I do: They’re not.

The church is people. Not the denomination, not the 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, not the leadership, not the building. It’s people. It’s the collective Christians who make up the Holy Spirit’s temple, and when we got the temple, we got church. Yet usually, those who wanna ditch church don’t even think of the people when they think of church. They’re thinking of the Sunday morning services, the unimpressive pastors, and the uncomfortable building—which is never at the right temperature. Poorly ventilated, or someone went a little bonkers with the air conditioning. Why is the only pastor undergoing menopause in charge of the thermostat?

But I digress; back to the point. The church is people. If you’re avoiding the people, you’re not doing church!

And that’s why we’re instructed to not skip meeting with one another He 10.25 if we can help it. If we’re gonna have healthy and productive relationships with our fellow Christians, and encourage one another to follow Jesus, we gotta interact. The ancient Christians, who spent most of their lives under persecution, realized this support system is absolutely necessary—and intentionally put “the fellowship of saints” in their creeds. It’s not an afterthought; it’s not something they threw in there ’cause it sounds nice. People were ditching church even back then.

Thing is, going it alone leads people astray constantly. Constantly. CONSTANTLY. Do I have to emphasize this harder?

People go astray even when we do attend church services faithfully! But when we’re not attending at all, we’re guaranteed to go wrong. Not sometimes gonna go wrong; will. Without fellow Christians to correct one another, reinforce one another, confirm what the Spirit is telling us, it’s a given that we’re gonna develop wrong beliefs and heresies, and become less and less Christian over time. I’ve seen it happen more times than I can count.

So no, it’s not just me saying skipping church is heresy. I don’t get to define orthodoxy and heresy, y’know. (Neither do you. Neither does your denomination.) Christianity determined it, centuries ago. They recognized it’s vitally important we interact—because Jesus made it important. It’s why he created the church to begin with.

Pentecost.

by K.W. Leslie, 05 June

Pentecost is the Christian name for the Feast of Weeks, or שָׁבֻעֹת֙/Šavuót: Seven weeks after Passover, at which time the Hebrews harvested their wheat. Ex 34.22 On 6 Sivan in the Hebrew calendar, the 50th day after Passover, they were expected to come to temple and present a grain offerng to the LORD. Dt 16.9-12 Oh, and tithe a tenth of it to celebrate with—and every third year, put it in the community granary.

Our word comes from the Greek τὴν ἡμέραν τῆς πεντηκοστῆς/tin iméran tis pentikostís, “the 50th day” Ac 2.1 —the Greek term for Šavuót.

Why do Christians celebrate a Hebrew harvest festival? (And have separate “harvest parties” in October?) Well we don’t celebrate it Hebrew-style: We consider it the last day of Easter, and we celebrate it for a whole other reason. In the year 33—the year Jesus died, rose, and was raptured—the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus’s new church on Pentecost. Happened like so:

Acts 2.1-4 KJV
1 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. 3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

The speaking-in-tongues part is why the 20th century Christian movement which has a lot of tongues-speaking in it is called Pentecostalism. Weirdly, a lot of us Pentecostals never bother to keep track of when Pentecost rolls around. I don’t get it. I blame anti-Catholicism a little. Anyway, Luke goes on:

Acts 2.5-13 KJV
5 And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. 6 Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. 7 And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? 8 And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? 9 Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, 10 Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God. 12 And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this? 13 Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine.

Christians like to call this “the first Pentecost.” Obviously it wasn’t. It’s the Feast of Weeks, which meant every devout Jew on earth was bringing their grain offerings to temple on that very day, 25 May 33. And suddenly a house full of Galileans broke out in every language they knew—spoken to as if to them personally.

Got their attention.

Monotheists.

by K.W. Leslie, 02 June
MONOTHEIST mɑ.nə'θi.ɪst adjective. Believes there’s only one god.
2. Believes there are various beings called “gods,” but one of them is mightier than the rest, and only that one is worthy of worship (or to be recognized as the capital-G “God”).
[Monotheism mɑ.nə'θi.ɪz.əm noun, monotheistic mɑ.nə.θi'ɪst.ɪk] adjective.

Most of the pagans I encounter believe in God, in one form or another; very few are nontheist. Oh, they may not be religious at all… towards God, anyway. They’ll get fully religious when it comes to sports, politics, music, or whatever their favorite recreational activities might be; they simply worship weed, fr’instance. God, not so much.

But when you talk to ’em about God at all, by and large they figure there’s only one God.

Most of that is because of western culture. There’s a lot of Christianity and Judaism in European history, and both these religions insist upon one God… so yeah, the idea works for them too: One God. Or they have a middle eastern background, and Muslims are most definitely monotheist, so they are too. Or they’ve dabbled in eastern cultures, and picked up a few Hindu and Buddhist ideas, and even though there are thousands of gods in Hinduism, the branches of Hinduism which have really caught on in the United States have been the ones which emphasize pantheism, the idea the universe is God. Well there’s only one universe (although they might recognize there’s a multiverse), so in their minds there’s also only one God.

I have found it extremely rare to find a pagan who believes in multiple gods. Oh, there are some—like the capital-P Pagans who are trying to bring back pre-Christian European religions, and deliberately have multiple gods. Or the Yoruba gods, or the Chinese folk religion’s ancestors, or old-school Hindus of Indian descent who don’t care what Oprah Winfrey’s favorite Hindus teach about pantheism; they have straight-up multiple gods, and worship a few favorites.

But my experience is not the baseline for humanity. For that, you need proper stats taken by proper scientists… so I found a report by the Pew Research Center in 2017. They figured as of 2015, Christians are the largest religious group, at 31.2 percent of the earth’s 7.3 billion people; followed by Muslims, unaffiliated, Hindus, Buddhists, folk religion, and other religions. (Jews made up 0.01 percent of the world’s population.) Put the Christians and Muslims together, and this means 55.3 percent of humanity—more than half—is definitely monotheist.

Can’t hear God? Read your bible!

by K.W. Leslie, 31 May

Prayer is talking with God, and the emphasis is on with God: Yeah we talk to him, but it’s not a one way-monologue where he doesn’t speak back. We don’t presume, like pagans do, that God’ll tell us stuff like “the universe” does—with omens, signs, coincidences, and other superstitions which can easily be misinterpreted, same as all natural revelations. We talk, and God definitely talks back.

That is… till he doesn’t.

’Cause sometimes we can’t seem to hear him. Much as we try, we can’t detect what he’s telling us. Sometimes because we’re too stubborn or impatient to listen. Sometimes because haven’t listened to the last thing he told us to do, so he’s waiting for us to act on that before he tells us anything more. (Oho, didn’t think of that one, did you?) And sometimes because we’re listening to him instead of reading our bibles.

Y’see, too many of us Christians get into the bad habit of not reading the scriptures. And once we’ve learned to hear God, we figure, “Why bother?” God already tells us what we need to know! Why dig around some 2,000-year-old book for answers when we can just ask our Father, “Hey, what do I need to know rght now?” I mean, if it really is a need-to-know deal, God’ll come through, right?

Yeah, it’s immature behavior. It’s like a history student skipping the textbook, and asking Siri or Google for the answers to every line on the take-home exam.

God’s training us to be better than that. You think Jesus, just because he is God, has godly wisdom and character in abundance, figured it was okay to give the scriptures a pass? Nuh-uh. He made darned sure he knew ’em better than everyone. Jesus read his bible. We’re to be like Jesus, remember?

So from time to time, when he feels we need to crack our bibles and get back into ’em, God puts his side of the conversation on pause. Or he straight-up tells us (as he has me, many times), “I already answered that in the scriptures; read your bible.”

Hence that’s become my go-to response whenever somebody tells me, “I haven’t heard from God lately,” or otherwise complains God feels so distant, or the heavens feel like brass when they pray. Dt 28.23 My usual advice: “Read your bible.”

Okay, maybe you already do read your bible. Good. Keep it up.

The Geneva Bible: The first really good English bible.

by K.W. Leslie, 30 May

The English-language bible of William Shakespeare, of John Bunyan, of John Donne, of the first colonists who founded the future American states—namely the pilgrim fathers who traveled aboard the Mayflower and founded Plymouth and Massachusetts—was not the King James Version. And no, this isn’t a knock on the KJV; it didn’t exist yet. It was first published in 1611, and this stuff predates it.

And some of it doesn’t. Despite the publication of the KJV, many people held onto that previous English translation and used it instead. Like Oliver Cromwell, the Puritan parliamentarian who overthrew King Charles Stuart in 1649, who published an assortment of 150 bible verses, called The Souldiers Pocket Bible, for his troops: The verses didn’t come from the KJV.

It’s called the Geneva Bible because it was translated in Geneva, Switzerland, by a team of Protestant scholars who fled England during the reign of Mary Tudor (as Queen Mary 1, 1553–58).

Geneva Bible title page
A Geneva Bible title page, published in London by John Barker in “1599.” That’s the date Barker put on all Geneva Bibles published after King James banned their production in 1611. Houston Baptist University

Tudor was a Roman Catholic. In part for political reasons, since her legitimacy as queen was based on it; in part for personal reasons, as she had been convinced by her Catholic family members she had to save England from the “heresy” of Protestantism. So Tudor started persecuting Protestants, particularly Protestants who had dared to translate the bible into English without Catholic permission. The persecution began with John Rogers, who had dared to revise the Tyndale Bible; he was burned to death in 1555. Protestant scholars decided it was safest to go into exile in a good Protestant country.

Since most educated Englishmen spoke French, where better than a French-speaking country? And since many of ’em were Calvinist, where better than the city Jean Calvin himself governed, Geneva? Several hundred Protestants thus became refugees in Geneva.

There were English-language bibles at the time, but not good ones. John Wycliffe's bible was only partially complete, and many Protestants still considered him heretic. William Tyndale made a pretty good translation of the New Testament, but he was also considered heretic, and executed for it in 1535. Myles Coverdale, who was neither a Greek nor Hebrew scholar, borrowed Tyndale’s NT, cobbled together an Old Testament from German bibles and the Vulgate, and published the Coverdale Bible in 1535; parts of it are still used in the Book of Common Prayer. And there’s that unfortunate John Rogers I just mentioned: He’d borrowed Tyndale’s NT, parts of Tyndale’s and Coverdale’s OTs, published it under the name “Thomas Matthew” in 1537, and it came to be called the Matthew Bible.

So since these refugees had time—and the resources of a whole lot of Protestant scholars who’d moved to Geneva under persecution—they decided to tackle a new bible.

Jesus’s great commission.

by K.W. Leslie, 29 May
Matthew 28.16-20 KWL
16 The 11 students go to the Galilee,
to the hill where Jesus first appointed them.
17 Seeing Jesus, they worship him—
but they hesitate.
18 Coming forward, Jesus speaks to them:
“All power in heaven and earth is given to me.
19 So go make students of every nation!
Baptize them in the name of the Father
and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
20 Teach them to retain everything I commanded you.
Look, I’m with you every day
till the end of this age.”
Previously:
  • “The resurrection in Matthew.” Mt 28.1-10
  • After Jesus was resurrected in Matthew, the angel told Mary and Mary to tell the other students that he’d meet them in the Galilee. In other gospels they didn’t believe the women, but Matthew skips all that: The students went right home to the Galilee.

    Did the Holy Spirit tell ’em where to meet Jesus? No idea. It’s entirely possible they guessed: “Well, where should we expect to see him? Um… how about where he first made us apostles? In Matthew that’s actually the hill where Jesus gave his Sermon on the Mount. Kind of a profound place, so sure, it stands to reason that’s where they should see him.

    Me, I figure Jesus would’ve shown up at any place they picked. Maybe at the beach where he first called Peter, Andrew, James, and John. Maybe his house in Capharnaum, or the synagogue. Maybe his mom’s house in Nazareth. After Jesus rose, the way the gospels describe him, he now appears to have the ability to appear and disappear—so he could reappear anywhere, right?

    But I admit there’s every chance we Christians have wholly misinterpreted this “new power” of Jesus’s. When Jesus became human he limited himself. He’s wholly divine, but gave up the power we typically associate with divinity. A number of us would really like to imagine the newly resurrected Jesus got some of his power back. But maybe he didn’t; maybe his “appearing” and “disappearing” isn’t some superpower that resurrected humans now have, but some supernatural ability any Christian can exhibit as the Holy Spirit allows. Remember, the evangelist Philip disappeared too. Ac 8.39

    Anyway, Jesus appeared to them on the very hill they chose, and that’s where he gave ’em what Christians tend to call “the great commission.” Frequently we capitalize it. I don’t; you know which great commission I’m talking about.

    Ascension: When Jesus took his throne.

    by K.W. Leslie, 26 May

    If we figure Luke’s count of 40 days Ac 1.3 wasn’t an estimate, but a literal 40 days, on Thursday, 15 May 33, this happened.

    Acts 1.6-9 KJV
    6 When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? 7 And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. 8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. 9 And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.

    I usually translate ἐπήρθη/epírthi, which the KJV renders “he was taken up,” as “he was raptured.” ’Cause that’s what happened. He got raptured into heaven.

    From there Jesus ascended (from the Latin ascendere, “to climb”) to the Father’s throne—to sit at his right hand, Ac 2.33, 7.55-56 both in service and in judgment. We figure Jesus’s ascension took place the very same day he was raptured, so that’s when Christians have historically celebrated it: 40 days after Easter, and 10 days before Pentecost Sunday.

    Some of us figure ascension celebrates Jesus’s rapture. And yeah, we can celebrate that too… but the way more important thing is Jesus taking his throne. When we say our Lord reigns, you realize his reign began at some point. Wasn’t when he died, and defeated sin and death; wasn’t when he rose from the dead, and proved he defeated sin and death. It’s when he took his throne. It’s his ascension day. Which we observe today.

    Why the United States doesn’t control our guns.

    by K.W. Leslie, 25 May

    I have friends outside the United States who look at our rampant gun violence, notice how our mass shootings even happen on a daily basis, and wonder why in God’s name we do nothing about it.

    Two reasons. The first is Americans consider gun ownership a right. Not an option, not a privilege, a right. We even put it into our Constitution.

    Y’see in the 1760s and ’70s, the British occupying forces tried to take Americans’ guns away lest we start a revolution. (’Cause we were gonna.) Once we Americans got our independence, we became fearful lest the Brits, or any other government, try to take us over, or go too far to curtail our liberties. So we made gun ownership the fourth article of the Bill of Rights, which became our Constitution’s second amendment.

    A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

    Guns aren’t an obvious and inherent right. This is why the Congress had to spell out their justification for guns: If we’re gonna remain a free state, we need militia, armed civilians who can help our police and armed forces defend our homeland. Some folks assume our National Guard fulfills the role of a militia, but nope; guardsmen are part of the Army and Air Force, and not civilians. (As demonstrated whenever guardsmen are called in to stop civilian unrest.) The way we keep civilians at the ready, is we let ’em keep their guns. And make sure they know how to properly use ’em. So once people hear the British are coming—or the Soviets, the North Koreans, the Iranians, the terrorists, or whoever’s the boogeyman today—they can grab their rifles and fall in.

    Thing is, we Americans tend to describe our rights as sacred and God-given. In other words holy. With all the other baggage which comes with civic idolatry.

    Proper religion involves self-control, but civic idolatry means when we Americans get it into our heads that something’s a right, we treat it as an unlimited right. Zero control. No limits. Absolute.

    Fr’instance freedom of speech. We treat it like we can say absolutely anything, no matter how offensive, profane, or seditious. And should be able to say anything, without any repercussions from our neighbors or employers. That’s why we’re often stunned when there are totally repercussions: We lose jobs, money, status, or relationships over the dumber things we say. But what’d people expect would happen? Freedom of speech only means government can’t censor or censure us. Everybody else can.

    So that’s the very same way many an American gun nut looks at guns: The right to bear arms means we can own any gun we like, decked out with any accessories or ammunition we like, take it anywhere, and shoot anyone we perceive a threat. ’Cause it’s a right. Constitution says so, which makes it sacred.

    Now read the second amendment again. It describes our American militia as well regulated. Is it? Not in the slightest. Largely it’s not regulated at all.

    This is where the United States goes horribly wrong. If the amendment were scripture, we’d be guilty of taking it out of context. Our militia is unregulated, and whenever any politician tries to regulate it, the gun nuts scream tyranny. And the gun lobby has bought so many senators, nothing gets regulated. Nothing changes for the better. Hence the daily shootings.

    Doubt is our friend.

    by K.W. Leslie, 24 May

    You might’ve heard the following verse before.

    Matthew 21.21 NIV
    Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done.”

    Jesus says ἐὰν ἔχητε πίστιν καὶ μὴ διακριθῆτε/e’án éhite pístin ke mi diakrithíte, “when you have faith and don’t hesitate,” though most translations follow the KJV’s lead and go with “doubt not.” Either way, people assume he’s contrasting opposites: Hesitation, or doubt, is the opposite of faith.

    So either we have faith or we have doubt—so have faith, and never doubt. Doubt is bad. Doubt is evil. Doubt is how the devil convinces us to never do as the Spirit wants.

    But in college I studied logic. (Hey, it’s a math class, and I wasn’t a fan of math, but logic sounded like something I could get into. Boy did I.) In logic I learned a lot of supposed “opposites” aren’t really. What’s the opposite of big? It’s actually not small. Big and small are contrasts, not opposites. A big coffee is not the opposite of a small coffee. Big faith isn’t the opposite of small faith either.

    Same with hot and cold, black and white, young and old, male and female. Especially male and female. They’re not opposites; they’re complements!

    The proper opposite of anything is its absence. The opposite of big is not big. Which could be medium, small, tiny, or even 3XL; what makes it opposite is it’s not what we want. Not what we’re looking for. And that’s not just something relatively smaller; it’s everything else. When it’s not as big as we want, it’s the opposite of big. “That’s not a ‘big.’ Get me a ‘big’!”

    Likewise the opposite of black is not-black. The opposite of young is not-young. The opposite of love is not-love. And the opposite of faith is not-faith.

    Now, if the definition of a word is precisely the same as that opposite, it’s a true opposite. The opposite of true is not-true, i.e. false. The opposite of patient is not-patient, i.e. impatient. Does doubt mean precisely the same as not-faith? Actually no: It means not enough faith. There’s still a little faith in there! There oughta be more, and sometimes there’s not enough faith for no good reason, ’cause we really oughta trust God more than we do.

    But sometimes we don’t have enough faith for a totally valid, very good reason: This isn’t a God thing.

    ’Cause sometimes it’s not. There are a lot of things which Christians claim are God things, claim are holy, claim are Christ Jesus’s expectations for his followers, claim are mandatory doctrines or mandatory practices. Are they? Well… we doubt. And it turns out we’re right to.

    I’ll go so far as to say the reason we doubt is because the Holy Spirit is making is hesitant. The Christianese term for this is, “I have a check in my spirit,” which usually means “I don’t think we should”—and because we can sometimes be giant hypocrites, we phrase it so it sounds like the Holy Spirit is making us hesitant. But sometimes it’s actually not hypocrisy! Sometimes it really is the Holy Spirit telling us, “Whoa there little buckaroo. That’s a cliff you’re heading towards.”

    Sometimes we call this supernatural discernment: We know something’s not right, don’t know why, but trust God enough to put things on pause. Other times it takes no revelation from God whatsoever; any onlooker can see it’s all kinds of wrong. And we should practice the regular kind of discernment as well—though you’d be surprised and annoyed how often Christians don’t, and get suckered into all sorts of cons. We can be some of the most gullible people sometimes.

    Other times the Holy Spirit will obviously tell us, “No; don’t.” Ac 16.6-7 Won’t necessarily tell us why. Nor does he need to! (We gotta trust him, y’know.) But clearly those “doubts” we might sometimes have, aren’t always gonna the product of doubting God. Sometimes they’re just the opposite. We doubt circumstances. We doubt fellow Christians. We doubt everything but God.

    It’s a great thing to have the sort of mountain-moving faith Jesus speaks of. It’s just as great to pay attention to our doubts, lest we attempt to move the wrong mountains. ’Cause doubt isn’t always our opponent! Often doubt is our friend.

    And few Christians have been taught this. Or even understand this. They’ve been taught Christians should never, ever, EVER doubt. Shove all those doubts out of your mind. Turn ’em off like a lightswitch. Suppress them. Fight them. Psyche yourself into believing.

    In other words, embrace denial. And because denial’s a lie, it doesn’t legitimately get rid of our doubts. Instead, denial unravels our faith and turns us into hypocrites.

    Y’see, whenever we Christians have doubts, our next step is to investigate. Confirm whether those doubts are valid. Find out whether there’s anything rock solid behind them, or whether we’re getting scammed by some Christian who only wants our money or loyalty. If these things are of God, they can absolutely hold up to scrutiny. If they’re not, they don’t—and the people trying to pull us in those directions get really angry, and all sorts of other fleshly behavior starts coming out of ’em.

    Use those doubts to get solid about what you oughta believe and who you oughta follow—and get closer to God.