I would have to call myself a skeptic at least on some level. This is the way I have described myself for a while and its because I question everything. I want to know the who, what, when, where and why of almost everything. Basically, I want sources to back up claims of fact and claims of truth. Does it make me guarded? Yes. Is that bad? Well, it depends.
The following word picture describes this best I think. It is not my own but it came from a lecture in a theology class I am taking.
Think of having your property surrounded by fence both front and back. There is one gate and it is usually closed with a guard standing there ready to defend against unauthorized entry. A long line of people, beliefs, theories etc, are wanting in. Indeed there are already some who are inside the fences. The ones who are standing outside wanting in must be thoroughly evaluated for their worthiness to be allowed in. Once proved worthy, the gate opens enough to let that one in and then promptly shuts to block the others out. In some cases the ones that are inside must be kicked out and re-evaluated before being allowed back in.
That is my process in a nutshell. I am best served by not allowing the gates to be wide open (naivety) and by not allowing the gates to remain firmly shut forever (strictly dogmatic). Instead, I must find that middle ground where every single thought, idea, claim, whatever wants in, must be examined. My gate can be opened but whatever it is opened for and that which remains inside, must continue to pass the test. As my instructor put it, “My beliefs are too important to give in so easily”.
This leads into one of the other books I am currently reading called The Skeptical Believer by Daniel Taylor. In it he wrestles with what he calls his inner atheist, that doubting voice. He calls himself not just a skeptic and not just a believer but instead a combination of the two. He is a skeptical believer and I would say that I am as well.
The Theology Program that I am enrolled in and the books I am reading associated with this course of study is helping me come to terms with my doubt. It has, to a certain degree, been a weight lifted knowing that doubt is alright so long as it is kept on a leash. This course of study is already reshaping my mind, allowing for a more mature approach to scriptures and the beliefs that follow. Though for a while I bought in to the idea that I should follow my heart, there is quite enough evidence from the world and in scripture that suggests the heart is a poor guide at best.
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jer. 17-9, ESV)
I’ll end this with a few quotes from The Skeptical Beleiver:
“I am going to argue that doubt is entirely compatible with faith. In fact, it is required. If you doubt nothing, you are not exercising faith at all, because you think you have certainty.”
“To skepticism, I say ‘sometimes, but with reservations.’”
“Be as skeptical about skepticism as skepticism is about everything else”
“…take some comfort that the water walker and the doubter and the denier and the apostle and the martyr are all the same person. Peter was both skeptic and saint–a combination that holds out hope for me.”