Gaining a Deeper, Mature Faith

How overcoming doubt does not strengthen faith but merely lowers the bar

About a year ago Loy used the words, “maturing in faith”. Another reassuring catch phrase is, “deeper faith” or “deepening faith”, but what actually is the cognitive process of obtaining a deeper, more mature faith and why is it important to put effort to it? Why deconstruct doubt to reconstruct faith when you know it simply requires additional mental wrangling and dismissal of, or in many cases, spoliation of evidence?

Isn’t maturing in faith actually an increased commitment to self doubt after another exhaustive mental tug-o-war and rewording? Or, is it merely preserving bias longevity by simply ignoring doubt, bypassing evidence to cradle another attempt at belief into a smoother, steadier, methodical release of DHEA or relaxin? Maturing in faith is simply re-accepting your surrender, giving another try at reforming your thoughts—relax, god is testing your ability to lose an argument between your true self and your anchoring bias.

Painting on a house near me

Redoubling efforts to challenge doubt conforms one to a far more meaningful faith. One that frees your mind from the burden of original thought, for all religion creates copycats—soldiers of prepackaged t.v. dinner dogma by convincing yourself it’s actually a freewill thought. The choice is yours, but in trying to keep faith most will succeed. The reward is in the backslapping and camaraderie of thinking you get it, when you don’t.

Maturing in the gospel is simply an erroneous effort that lowers expectations of the benefit gained through faith.

Author: jim-

One minute info blogs breaking the faith trap.

80 thoughts on “Gaining a Deeper, Mature Faith”

  1. Ron and Nan, this is a very difficult and challenging topic, I know. Ron, I think your analogy works to a point. Of course, the police should intervene.

    But, consider this on a cosmic scale. In order to completely eliminate all evil and suffering, God would have to completely eliminate any type of free will. We would no longer be truly human. If people cannot be free to choose evil, neither can they truly love. We would be like robots. Or, God would have to perhaps kill off all the evildoers. Where is the line to be drawn? In order to prevent the movement of the tectonic plates which cause earthquakes, the earth itself would need to be altered in a fundamental way. It could go on and on.

    And, sadly, it’s deeper than just stopping a few bad guys. In the 1940’s the whole nation of Germany became complicit in the evils of Hitler, multitudes of people.

    I’ve worked with people who abused and neglected their own children who never thought they could be capable of such a thing.

    For me, it’s a very deep and complex issue. But, the reality of human pain and suffering has not led me away from Christian faith, even though my understanding of it all is admittedly incomplete and finite.

    It’s just made me feel more determined to walk out my faith in Jesus Christ by making a positive difference in the world to alleviate human suffering.

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  2. A phenomenal number of books are written by apologists for consumption by the already converted. They’re all marketed as a means of deepening and maturing pre-existing faith. They all do this by simply exploiting confirmation bias.

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  3. When you are young, you have little in your past to create doubt. The longer you live, the more your experience causes you to doubt. You are constantly being challenged to renew your faith, because otherwise your doubt will win. Until you reach that point when doubts become unnoticeable, and faith is no longer questioned. A perfect circle from birth to death…
    If you don’t choose to question yourself.
    If you do, you see the lack of evidence that surrounds you. No matter how good a Christian you are, God does not care about you. All those events that you are told is a test of your faith, would a benevolent god really do that to you? He knows you inside and out, what is it that makes him doubt you? What does he know about you that you don’t know? He doesn’t believe in you, why are you still believing in him?

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    1. How could He not believe in you, Rawgood? Where do we get the notion that every difficult and challenging event in our life is directly ordained by God, and He is “testing us.” I think sometimes people share that with others because they’re not sure what to say. But, the truth is we don’t always know why sad and difficult things happen. But, I think through everything God cares and is with us no matter what. And, we need to also reflect that caring and support to each other.

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      1. But we do know why difficult things happen. Only when injecting an omnipotent god into the equation does it require more “maturing in faith”. One of the reasons you donate your time is god is useless, if it exists at all. So you do it yourself. It would be much better for society to just start with that than try the other.

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        1. Jim and Rawgod, does our difference have to do with an “deus ex machina” view of God, maybe? If I thought that if God was loving, He would always swoop into save the day, then God would seem useless. I understand that.
          People are not always going to be miraculously healed, regardless of praying a certain formula.

          But, if I think that “it is Him that we live and move and have our being,” then I think God is always present in the good that I do. We are co-laborers in a sense together with Him to work for healing and reconciliation. Through this we are also growing to reflect the love and compassion of Christ which to me is what it actually means to mature in Christian faith.

          I don’t think that it has to do at all with whether people are questioning, or have honest doubt. I think it all leads to greater freedom, not less.

          But, I have to respect your experience, too. We are just not taking ahold of this in the sameway at all, it seems.

          Maybe if we keep talking over time we can come to greater common ground and understanding of each other.

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          1. ”He would always swoop into save the day”. Occasionally that would actually be warranted. But even then it never happens. For some the purpose of life is to be raped in a third world, give birth at 13, alone in a rusted tin shack beside the railroad track, drop your baby in a plastic bag and dump it somewhere. When the authorities find you, you are charged with murder—right about now, just maybe, would be a good time to step in where others can’t. But god is absent. There are no footprints in the sand where he carried anyone—ever. We survive because of people. Nothing more. It doesn’t matter what you think god is. The utility of that is simply a pacifier to reason away the story above as some type of greater good. There isn’t. It’s 100% on us
            When the clerics were burning the witches for using their god given intuition? Maybe just once he could step in and say, hey, I have future plans for this one. Let her go. But alas…

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            1. When I was a young girl, I wrestled with this question. How can the love and goodness of God be reconciled with human suffering.? Jim and Nan, every thoughtful Christian has considered this
              Working in Child Welfare, I saw some pretty horrible things, even the death of innocent kids through abuse. Thank God I never experienced a child fatality on my caseload. I worked with a woman who walked through this. It devastated her. She blamed herself for not seeing the signs in time, even though it was truly not her fault at all. Where was God? Because I so strongly affirm, the incarnation, I say that God is there in the middle of human pain and suffering. In a deep sense, He also pays the price for allowing human autonomy and freedom to chose good or to walk in pure evil. I know we don’t fully agree, but it’s my hope that both secular humanists and people of faith can work together to make a positive difference. For me, this is a calling and part of what it means to participate in the Kingdom of God.

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            2. Becky,

              Imagine a scene in which a man is being beaten to death by another while a group of armed police officers stand around watching. Eventually, the man on the ground dies and the other walks away. You ask the officers why they did not jump in to stop the beating and
              arrest the man who committed the murder. They respond:

              “It pains us that someone had to suffer such a brutal death. We wish we could have helped but that would have interfered with the man’s free will. In a deep sense, we also pay the price for allowing human autonomy and freedom to chose good or to walk in pure evil.”

              Would you accept that answer?

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            3. Where was God? Excellent question!

              To actually believe that god was there “in the middle of human pain and suffering” is, IMO, sick. Your “incarnation” reasoning is nothing but god-babble.

              Sorry, Becky, but if your god exists, there is simply NO justification for allowing some of the atrocities that occur every single day in human lives.

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      2. There is no god in my world, so there is no superbeing or intelligence to care about me or you. That’s just the way iy is. No one is testing us. If you are asking me why sad and difficult things happen, it is the same reason happy and wonderful things happen–chaos. Life is chaos. Our cause is to find our way through it, knowing we are going to die no matter what. Anything else in my humble opinion is pure foolishness.

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  4. Christianity requires circular logic. Circular logic is the quintessential “Because I said so” way of explaining something.

    Believe because I told you to. If you don’t believe it’s because you just don’t have enough faith. You don’t have enough faith because you’re not trying hard enough and trusting in god. Trust in god because i told you to.

    Deepening faith/maturity of faith just means that you’ve bought in more deeply to the logic of fallacy.

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  5. “Maturing in faith” is similar to the practice of foot binding. People praise the forcible breaking of a person’s psyche and ability to defend themselves from bad ideas. The very notion presumes a person should mature personal faith instead of looking for better answers to questions.

    Faith is an injury to the mind. Mature faith is a dedication to preserve that injury so it will continue to wound long after the damage is done.

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    1. As I followed your struggles the past couple of years I see that. Although I don’t post much about those anchoring moments in my life, they are there. I still find myself thinking in Christian, even though I don’t believe a word of it. So deepening faith is really the ability to endure the mental contradictions and doubts of the negative affects of belief. Thanks buddy.

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  6. We called it sanctification. Growing in faith. Just keep going, God knows, makes sense to Him. Trust and obey . . . for there’s no other way (insert musical icon). Growing in faith, maturing in the gospel = sanctification. You don’t know now but in time you will know and if you don’t find out in time you’ll find out later -> heaven. You’ll have all of eternity to learn.

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    1. I remember several years ago having a conversation with a friend about Christianity. I remember saying that I was throwing my hat in the ring on faith pick up because there was nothing better to put my trust in. I had given up trying to reason past belief. But in every aspect of my life I had lived very independently, charted my own path, and lived a variety of experiences independent of what anyone else thought—Except religion. I had to know why and now I do

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  7. This is the sad part of religious instruction. This “deepening of the faith” benefits whom/what? It benefits the church. So, in this con, the mark is tasked not only with bringing others along for the ride but also with increasing their belief in the con. Bernie Madoff acquired more marks for his Ponzi scheme through recommendations of others already in his net. This is hardly different.

    Being called a person of strong faith is a complement used to bolster the ego of the person named and also to urge on others within ear shot. This is a little like calling a slave a model slave (“That boy never causes me any trouble and he is a good worker.”) or a parent asking a child “Why can’t you be more like your sister?” Just consider who/what that benefits.

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    1. You are a freakin genius Ruis! I have a friend who was raised by minister parents who became an atheist, and now is back and believing with a vengeance. They are so proud of him and regularly bolster his ego.

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  8. You asked, “…is it merely preserving bias longevity by simply ignoring doubt,” [?] … I think there are degrees of doubt. It is not so much that doubt wins out over faith. It is that wisdom and intellect trump foolish superstition.
    We seem to be kind of on the same page today, Jim. My post on Dispassionate Doubt is about my personal struggle and search for belief (faith). I battled with my doubt, but doubt won, thank god. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. To me, doubt and questioning is indicative of a more mature and deeper faith. Doesn’t it show that someone is taking it all seriously as opposed to being mindlessly indoctrinated? The more the mind is awake the better, IMO. I think the opposite of faith is not doubt, but apathy.

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    1. To me, doubt and questioning is indicative of a more mature and deeper faith”. That is the premise of the article but the cognitive analysis says differently. I think you missed something in the article. God is testing your ability to lose an argument between your true self and your anchoring bias.
      I think you are saying what needs to be decided is a virtue to not feel silly. That is the point of the article. The cognitive self conjecture to continue the belief actually weakens the individual, while strengthening the conviction. All reason is dismissed because of doubt, which purports faith even in the most obvious moments of evidence stating them right in the face.
      Like this—did you hear recently that the book of John, as well as 1John, 2John, and 3John are all forgeries? But even with that information they will still be quoted by the people and the pulpits because of this phenomenon. I guess the books are so good, we can rationalize that they must be what god would have said, had he said something.

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      1. “Like this—did you hear recently that the book of John, as well as 1John, 2John, and 3John are all forgeries?”

        I didn’t hear about that, I’ll have to look it up. Doesn’t surprise me in the least, though. We know that some of Paul’s letters are outright frauds, but they still kept them.

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      2. Jim it is so difficult to communicate across the internet. Often, we are probably on the same page, at least partly, and don’t see it at first. 🙂 Based on what I know based on my studies, many books of the NT may not have been written by the author assigned. Often, these NT scholars will disagree among themselves. Both the orthodox and more radical/liberal scholars are able to find evidence and reasons to bolster their position. It can be enough to make your head spin, the dueling of the scholars.

        My position is more moderate. For me, the issue would be not that say Matthew actually wrote or did not write the gospel of Matthew. This seem irrelevant to me. (In general, I am just this middle of the road, layback, ordinary, type of Christian, not very fiery.)

        Anyway, I would consider if it is it likely that the writer had access to fairly early oral tradition which was then reflected in the account. In other words, does it fairly accurately reflect the teaching of the early church and the apostolic witness?

        I definitely think there are some embellishments in the texts, and maybe insertions by the early church. But, I don’t think these writers were just all making it up as they went along. That doesn’t make sense to me.

        I feel we do have the essence of what Jesus said and did. I don’t think He is a myth.

        Generally, I think Christian people would do well to refrain from arguing over this stuff, and actually put into practice what we all agree that Jesus did say such as caring for the poor, the widows, and orphans, and loving our neighbors in general.

        Now don’t ask me to go into detail. It’s impossible on the blog. LOL As you might have guessed, I graduated from a theological progressive seminary. But, my focus was counseling, not pastoral ministry. I’ve always worked in the human service field, mostly in Child Welfare, but also in Mental Health.

        Anyway, back to my Lenten Discipline, which obviously is not going very well. 🙂 Take care, and stay well and safe.

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        1. The entire framework of the gospel it was imperative that there was no proof for the appeal to faith.
          Christianity begins with a non human fictional character, the angel Gabriel, Mormonism uses another non human in the angel Moroni, and Islam uses Jibrīl, known as Gabriel in English. New age uses spirit guides, Ellen white of the SDA had her “accompanying angel etc. It’s a popular theme to start with a character nobody has ever seen or heard of, but it all ends with a geographic bias (except mormonism) It begins with nothing anyone can verify, and it ends the same way.
          Btw, which parts were embellishmentsand which were real? That doesn’t matter? If making it up doesn’t make sense to you, how do you explain the modern apologist?

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          1. I suppose it depends on the apologist. I can tell you one thing, this is off topic, but I don’t like the spirit of some of the apologists. We’re all human, and can fall short, I get that. I have to look at myself.

            But, let’s face it, if Christians can’t reflect the love of Christ in our comments and attitude, I think it’s better to not speak at all. I felt strongly to share 1Cor. 13:1-7 on one of these websites. My comment was simply nixed. It never saw the light of day. Not a good sign. No. You know, it’s about caring for each other, not just winning a debate or being right.

            Now I’m really going. 🙂

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        2. “Generally, I think Christian people would do well to refrain from arguing over this stuff, and actually put into practice what we all agree that Jesus did say such as caring for the poor, the widows, and orphans, and loving our neighbors in general.
          Now don’t ask me to go into detail. It’s impossible on the blog. ”

          This reads as a Christian who doesn’t want to acknowledge the problems in her religion and doesn’t want her baseless opinions countered. C.S Lewis is like this with his don’t mention the problems Christians have to potential Christians advice in Mere Christianity. that Jesus said some very nasty things is something a lot of Christians want to pretend isn’t true.

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          1. That’s not how it read to me. It sounded like a well-meaning person suggesting Christians should spend less time arguing over dumb and pointless things and spend more time caring for people.

            I see nothing wrong with that.

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            1. those “dumb and pointless” things are part of the Christian religion, and advise the actions of Christians.

              It would be nice if Christians cared more about people, but their religion doesn’t support that. Some verses do if taken out of context but the entire thing culminates in the destruction of anything not Christian.

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            2. Some Christians are decent people. That’s what drew them in. But things inside aren’t what they have promised. But virtually every time they’ve been able to enforce their religion, they have. They’ve got no teeth right now due to secular law so of course, it’s all gentle persuasion.

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            3. They are part of some forms of Christianity, but not all. After all, there are many different forms of Christianity. I know plenty of Christians who genuinely care about other people and see that as part of the “true meaning” of Christianity.

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            4. there are many different forms of Christianity

              That’s exactly right! And that’s part of the problem. Why would an all-powerful and loving “God” allow such disorder and disarray among “his” flock? According to the bible, Love is the end goal. Yet even among believers, there is so much discord related to interpretation of scripture that one wonders if who they really worship.

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            5. The point to me isn’t whether that God exists or not. The point is identifying what Becky is advocating with the words in question and seeing if one would support those ideas from Becky whether she is Christian or not.

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            6. In other words, she wrote:

              “I think Christian people would do well to refrain from arguing over this stuff,”

              Do you disagree with that statement? Wouldn’t you want more Christians advocating that Christians should stop arguing over minor doctrinal crap?

              “and actually put into practice what we all agree that Jesus did say such as caring for the poor, the widows, and orphans, and loving our neighbors in general.”

              You don’t want more Christians caring for the poor, widows, and orphans and loving their neighbors?

              Indeed, implicit in her phrasing is the understanding that NOT all Christians do those things and it would be better if they would.

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            7. I would paraphrase a line I heard a while back. “Whether you believe in god or not, do some good in the world, that’s where we’ll meet”
              I think Becky has been very reasonable and positive in her remarks. She’s actually hung in here quite a while taking a beating at times and maintained her message of peace.

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            8. It makes me wonder CR, how many of the highly critical are not engaged in a good cause, but simply criticizing anyone that has anything to do with religion while doing nothing themselves to alleviate the suffering they seem to despise?

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            9. I didn’t mean to criticize Becky … or you. I just get so tired of some Christians putting on their holier-than-thou robes and looking down on non-Christians while spouting scripture that, in many case, they don’t even follow.

              I realize not every Christian is of the same cut (which, in itself, is a point of discussion). But after awhile, contact with so many that talk but don’t walk begins to color one’s vision.

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            10. Not really. Imprecision is not the same thing as meaninglessness.

              Definition: The religion based on the person and teachings of Jesus Christ, or its beliefs and practices.

              I imagine that most Christians would agree that is a pretty good definition. The disagreement between different sects rests on what exactly are those teachings and practices, and certainly there will be overlap in ideas.

              So if someone comes up to me and says they are a Christian then I would assume they are someone who believes they follow the teachings of Jesus, while also understanding that there can be many different interpretations and emphasis and I don’t precisely know exactly how they view every last issue.

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            11. I don’t precisely know exactly how they view every last issue.

              Doesn’t this seem odd to you? If there truly is a “God” and the bible truly is “his” word, why are there so many interpretations, practices, denominations, etc.? Why does this “God” allow so much confusion and disarray among believers? It doesn’t make logical sense.

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            12. If the Bible was the literal word of God and being used as evidence that He wants to communicate with humans then yes it would seem odd that it all isn’t a bit more clear, but as it’s a literary text written by a wide variety of authors from different time periods with different agendas and social contexts, with thousands of years of various interpretations and philosophical and theological elaborations betwixt it and its original audience(s), written often in a minimalistic style that invites interpretation and reading between the lines, the fact that there are many different “interpretive” communities literal, skeptical, or scholarly with different ideas of what ideas are in that book or books and disagreement on what ideas are important actually doesn’t surprise me at all.

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            13. Your reply makes sense … but there are hundreds and hundreds of people who declare that it IS the literal word of “God.” And these are the individuals who consistently and loudly protest when non-believers ask them to provide evidence to validate the contents.

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            14. That’s why I say meaningless and not imprecise.

              And we both know that “definition” you gave isn’t the whole story. No, most Christians would not agree that was a good definition since they all have different ideas of what is sin, what is heaven and hell, who is damned and why, how do you communicate with this god, how to be baptized and how one is saved.

              We have Christians who claim predestination and those who claim free will: two entirely contradictory claims.

              and exactly what are the “teachings” of Jesus christ? The “take care of the poor/sick” or “kill all non-christians”?

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            15. My words:

              “So if someone comes up to me and says they are a Christian then I would assume they are someone who believes they follow the teachings of Jesus, while also understanding that there can be many different interpretations and emphasis and I don’t precisely know exactly how they view every last issue.”

              I don’t see anything you said in your list of theological disagreements that challenges anything I actually said in terms of an imprecise term. The term is meaningful enough that I and most other human beings can use it to discuss the history of Christianity, the literature of Christianity, etc. and somehow seems to be meaningful enough for you to identify what theological issues Christians disagree on in the first place. In other words, the “meaningless” term somehow seems to be signifying a set of concepts to you whether those concepts disagree with each other or not.

              But if the word or definition doesn’t mean anything to you, it’s completely fine by me. I will keep using it as a useful descriptor when necessary in a conversation and you can do whatever makes you happy.

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            16. wow, really? Unfortunately, all of what I said shows that Christians disagree and have entirely different and contradictory claims.

              The history of Christinaity is debated, the literature of Christainity is not the same for all who claim to be Christians.

              I do not find it meaningful since I can point out how Christians contradict each other. I have to use the term to point out the contradictions, this does not make it meaningful. But nice try to twist my words around.

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            17. Except according to the Bible, which is our only source for what “Jesus” said and did (and the universal agreement Becky assumes here is quite a leap in itself) are not the only things “Jesus” was about. Jesus was about damnation, about lukewarm Christians (liberal Christians??) being spat out, about people of the wrong tribe being beneath his notice. Throw in the…interesting…distortions of Paul, and you do not have a religion of love and peace. You have Celestial North Korea. (I use that trope so often. Mea culpa)

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    2. one would think that after spending years in a religion, a Christian wouldn’t have any more doubts. But that isn’t the case, those doubts grow as the years go by with no actual evidence and christians continually seek more and more claims of evidence, accepting anything at all, including clinging to the idea that “at least” some people think that there may have been a deluded Jewish guy at the root of their religion. They are never satisfied.

      It’s a constant scrabbling until they die.

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    1. I like that word for this—plateau.. Like staying in a diet even though its no longer appealing but it’s your only source of food.
      I’ve “broken” horses before “in the modern style in a round pen. The principle is pretty sound here too. Horses are lazy and If the horse doesn’t do what you want, you send him away and make him work until he accepts whatever you want to do and no longer fights the process.

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    1. The first year of this blog I don’t know how many times I said “once again we see what Christianity says is at odds with what we actually see”. What’s amazing is how few will actually analyze the outcomes of faith in the religious sense when it never meets its intended objective.

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      1. “once again we see what Christianity says is at odds with what we actually see”
        Even as a kid going to catholic school I could see that. There were these huge cracks in the whole thing that everyone seemed to overlook, a huge difference between what I was being taught by the nuns and priests and what the church was actually doing out in the real world. The things I was being taught weren’t even internally consistent. Unbaptized babies couldn’t go to heaven, they went to limbo because even though they hadn’t even really lived yet, they were still “sinners” somehow because of something someone did thousands of years ago. But god will forgive you… Really? Then why are babies sinners just because of something someone did at the dawn of time? If you ate meat on Fridays you’d go to purgatory where you’d be tortured for, oh, a few thousand years. And then all of a sudden the church said hey, that no eating meat on Friday thing? Just forget about it. We changed our minds. Priests absolutely have to be celibate. Well, except for those guys over there, they can be priests and get married too. Oh, and that whole “limbo” thing? Yeah, well, maybe we were just making that up too.

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        1. Don’t forget all those nice “celibate” priests who diddle little boys and girls, and lonely housewives, or even comely nuns. A priest I knew drank himself to sleep every night because he wasn’t allowed to even masturbate. He had been forced i to the ministry by his parents because he was a second son, and his older brother was the chosen one to continue his family name. He didn’t know how to be anything but a priest, and he didn’t have the guts to even try.
          I can only hope our conversations allowed him to turn away, but somehow I think he never made it. His alcoholism was stronger than his non-faith.

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          1. Yeah, the diocese here shuffled those bastards around for decades before they got caught at it.

            Shoving unwanted children into the priesthood and convent was, alas, very, very common. Girls as young as 13 or 14 (sometimes even younger) were dumped at the convent door, sometimes literally, by families who couldn’t afford to raise them or just didn’t want them.

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            1. Doing well watching America panic and eat toilet paper. Today we will go The the river since all events are closed. I thought it was funny in the news “church services and all other non-essential services are canceled due to corona virus” Non essential—perfectly stated.

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            2. Jim, I wish all churches were being rational about this and shutting down services. Alas, that isn’t the case. I’ve heard priests claiming that people coming to mass would somehow be protected from infection. At least two I heard claim that no one has ever become infected with a disease by sharing a communion cup and if you don’t go to regular services you aren’t a “true” Christian. Of course the more cynical of us wonder if perhaps that isn’t motivated more by the fear of their cash flow being interrupted

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            3. This is just stupid. A JW woman at work the other day said if you weren’t Asian you had nothing to fear. She is out sick today. Haha. Like Mak said, god is trying to fix this but nobody will quit coughing…

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            4. Oh for heaven’s sake! I can’t believe the ignorance of some people. There have actually been cases of people of Asian descent being physically assaulted by some of these idiots. I have an acquaintance who is Japanese but whose family has been in the US since the mid 1800 be accosted at a grocery store in Green Bay for “daring” to expose everyone to the virus. Sheesh…

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