We’re praying through Pete Enns’ Sin of Certainty (HarperCollins, 2016). It is a book that considers “certainty” for the faithful Christian an idol. Pete shares his story and tries to relate it to his readers, who he hopes can mature and hold onto their faith as they grow older. It is a great book for the Water Daily Prayer reader. I will mainly offer you excerpts of the text and reflections thereafter.
Today’s Bible reading and an excerpt
Read Ecclesiastes 3
For the fate of humans and the fate of animals is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and humans have no advantage over the animals; for all is vanity. All go to one place; all are from the dust, and all turn to dust again. Who knows whether the human spirit goes upward and the spirit of animals goes downward to the earth? So I saw that there is nothing better than that all should enjoy their work, for that is their lot; who can bring them to see what will be after them?
More thoughts for meditation
“Qohelet looked at life square in the eye and refused to play the religion game, where everything is working out and God makes sense. I’m drawn to his honesty and the fact that he is saying what we all feel, at least now and then.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting we dive in with Qohelet and try to live lives of despair, glorifying our doubt. I’m not even suggesting that he has the last word. But I am suggesting we pay attention to what this book is saying through Qohelet’s despair… there we see a startling lesson of faith, a faith that has let go of needing to know” (Pete Enns, Sin of Certainty, HarperCollins, 2016, p.77).
“When we reach that point where things simply make no sense, when our thinking about God and life no longer line up, when any sense of certainty is gone, and when we can find no reason to trust God but we still do, well, that is what trust looks like at its brightest—when all else is dark.
The book of Ecclesiastes isn’t a drawn-out and sorry tale of weak faith and poor thinking that the truth faithful need to avoid. It is an honest reflection of what people of true faith experience. The author drags his readers through one discouraging scenario after another, where reasonable people might give up…
Ecclesiastes is one of the true gems of the Bible. It paints for us a picture of what faith looks like when all you thought you knew about God and how the world works is ripped from you, when certainty vanishes like a vapor…
When we have stared into the pit of despair over God and his world, and our thoughts about God don’t line up at all, and then we trust God anyway, enough to continue living in the hope that trusting God is worth it… Ecclesiastes never says “You gotta know what you belief,” but rather “Trust God even when you don’t know what you believe, even when all before you is absurd” (Pete Enns, Sin of Certainty, HarperCollins, 2016, p. 79-80).
Suggestions for action
Ecclesiastes is an important book of the Bible because it teaches us that doubt and despair aren’t enemies of faith, but they can lead to maturation if they aren’t the last word. We don’t need to avoid our despair or doubt to keep our faith, but we need to move through them to deepen it. Certainty doesn’t save us, we are saved by grace through faith. See if you can be open about the despair you feel and even if you aren’t comforted immediately by God, pray that you can trust God anyway.
 The “narrator” of Ecclesiastes.
Today is Thomas Dorsey Day! Get to know the father of gospel music at Celebrating Our Transhistorical Body.