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beheadinChaplain Mike at Internet Monk posted a warm and insightful review this morning on The Sin of Certainty. In his review, he cites a podcast of his predecessor and founder of Internet Monk, Michael Spencer.

In that podcast, Spencer comments on Matthew 11:1-6, where John the Baptist, having been thrown in prison, sends messengers to Jesus and asks him, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?”

No commentary from me. I just think this is beautiful, encouraging, and to-the-point, and I wanted to share it with you.

At one time John was apparently very certain about Jesus. This is the person who baptized Jesus and the Spirit revealed to him, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” This is the one who said of Jesus to his own disciples, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”

…So here’s a guy who was at one point very certain about Jesus, and now, under different circumstances, seems to develop some real doubts and questions. “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?” Those are questions of which John was quite certain at one point.

And I was reflecting on this as somewhat descriptive of that concept of our personal faith journey. Many of us come from traditions that say, well, the way it’s supposed to happen is that you are baptized as a child or you come into the church as a child, and you simply grow in your faith through different experiences, through Christian nurture, Christian education, and you grow into a mature Christian from that initial being brought into the faith as a child.

Those of us who are from more evangelical, revivalistic traditions have that whole “Damascus Road” experience thing — getting saved out of an experience of being lost. That is how we conceive of a faith journey (or at least we’re told we’re supposed to)….we’re supposed to experience a great turnaround and grow from there.

I think both of those models do a lot to describe an ideal that just hardly ever occurs. What you see there with John the Baptist I think is much more likely to be what many of us go through. That is, at one time in our lives we’re very sure of some things and at another time we’re not sure at all. The fact of being convinced doesn’t mean we’re always convinced.

Pete Enns, Ph.D.

Peter Enns (Ph.D., Harvard University) is Abram S. Clemens professor of biblical studies at Eastern University in St. Davids, Pennsylvania. He has written numerous books, including The Bible Tells Me So, The Sin of Certainty, and How the Bible Actually Works. Tweets at @peteenns.