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Doubt versus rejection of the faith


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#1 Andrew Crook

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Posted 24 December 2012 - 03:59 PM

Hi everyone,

I wasn't sure where to put this but the "Tradition, Scripture, Intellect and Experience" seemed to be appropriate. I have to honestly say that Orthodoxy has been extremely challenging for me, and I have become so spiritually frustrated with myself to the point of destroying my chrismation certificate. But I know that there were not always certificates, that they are simply pieces of paper and not evidence of one's faith. A lot of times my faith will be quite strong in Christ, and I'll feel incredibly close to God and the Church -- and then other times I'll feel quite far away, such as when I've missed more than three weeks of Divine Liturgy.

How do I know if I've completely rejected the faith, or if I've just had my doubts? I can honestly say that as much spiritual confusion as I've been under going, it is many of the teachings of the Church which have brought light to the darkness occurring in my mind. The idea of apostolic succession and listening or reading the stories of the early Christians who suffered greatly for their faith, has reminded me that they would not deliberately lead us into error. I still believe in the intercession of saints, and Mary as the Theotokos, the Holy Trinity, and the two natures of Christ, and I see nothing wrong with venerating of icons. Even though I believe all of these things, I have still struggled with all of those concepts as time has passed.

I can honestly say that when I came into the Orthodox Faith, I never remembered being a catechumen. I gained most of my understanding of Orthodoxy from the internet, and had three meetings with my former priest and that was all. After that I decided I wanted to be chrismated on the Sunday of St. Mary of Egypt in 2011. I suppose I never realized what it meant to "work out your salvation with fear and trembling", or to "take up your cross and follow Me" until I found Orthodoxy. I hope you guys can help clarify some of my confusion.

Sincerely,
Andrew

#2 Phoebe K.

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Posted 24 December 2012 - 05:49 PM

Andrew,

I can only speak as a catacumin, but it is fine to have doubts and struggle that is part of what it is to have faith.

Each Piest or catacist has their own way of doing it and some take their time some don't.

Doubts and questing of our faith is a naturally result of exploring our faith, this is an area where you may find it helpful to speak to an experienced Spiritual Father, not nessecaerly you father confessor but possibly an monastic elder who may be able to help you.

As for felling far from God when you have not attended the liturgy in a while, this to me seems natural as our primary place for meeting God is in the divine liturgy. Feelings can be helpful guides to the strength of our faith however it is not always as it seems to us and at our lowest can be when Christ is closest too us. The thing is to hold fast to the faith whatever you are feeling, as faith is not a feeling but an attitude of existing towards God. This is an area you may wish to talk with your confessor on it, as it is an area he will be able to advise you.

Phoebe

#3 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 24 December 2012 - 05:52 PM

Doubt happens. Rejection happens. We are all prodigals. I know of several who came to the Faith, found something difficult to deal with, left and then came back, numerous times. It is not how many times one leaves, it is how many times we return that matters.

#4 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 24 December 2012 - 07:11 PM

When doubts arise, consider the alternative: nihilism and nonsense.

#5 Lakis Papas

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Posted 24 December 2012 - 08:30 PM

Doubts and temptations are for all, both for catechumens and for baptized.

Faith causes changes in the inner man. Our rationale, our consciousness are subjected to a purification process. The old ways of our life and our thoughts are tempting us to evaluate our efforts to live a Christian life as failure. Yes, we are called to be perfect, but we are not perfect yet. Our life is not perfect and our mind is not perfect, thus we fail to live and to think as perfect Christians. Gradually we learn to trust both our successes and our failures to God. This process usually takes time.

It is better to have doubts regarding ourselves, the trueness of our personal faith, rather than being confident and secure about the authenticity of the status of our personal faith.

The challenge is not to despair. Communicating with a spiritual father offers great comfort and safe guidance to avoid despair.

#6 Kosta

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Posted 24 December 2012 - 09:03 PM

There are countless stories of monks wrestling with demons in their cells for years. ST Silouan had struggled with highs of euphorias and the lows of despair. It happens, just keep in mind that whatever your doubts the answers can be found in the Church. It may not seem so, they may not come to you right away, but they exist.

We live in a time of immense skepticism, we have advanced communications and media where information is at our fingertips. Science is advanced and we live in a diverse society with competing ideas. This means we have questions and are asked questions no one ever thought of centuries ago . So being a doubting Thomas is easier than ever. It would have been much easier to live like my yiayia, she was uneducated , she listened to the gospel in church but never read it, for she could not read. Keep the faith and pray. The past few decades has been the era of the onslaught of skepticism, secularism, and atheism, and contact with competing ideologies combined, We are being tested like never before.




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