Karl Barth once approvingly cited this quote from Franz Overbeck:

"Theology can no longer be based on anything but daring."

The quote speaks not only to theology but also to faith in a post-Christian world. Faith is an act of daring in a world of normative doubt and skepticism. 

I've shared this before on the blog, how my spiritual, biblical, and theological reading habits had to change to pull me out of my long season of deconstruction. Ten years ago, books about deconstruction were filling the shelves of Christian bookstores. Doubt was all the rage, the cool thing to embrace. And for many of us, doubt remains a vital spiritual resource. Doubt is a practice of humility, and it creates spaces for generosity, curiosity, hospitality and conversation. It's nice to talk to people who don't know all the answers.

But a steady diet of doubt and deconstruction can have unhealthy consequences. Which is why we're seeing a lot of books right now about the need for reconstruction. My Hunting Magic Eels is a part of that group of titles. 

Returning to the Barth and Overbeck's quote, one of the things that was helpful to me turning from deconstruction to reconstruction was listening to more daring, bold, confident, and unapologetic Christian voices. And my own writing voice, here and in books, has made that same turn, from qualified and skeptical to bolder and more confident.

Have my doubts, therefore, evaporated? Yes and no. No in the sense that I'm still pretty epistemically humble. I recognize, like Kierkegaard, that faith will always involve a leap and that, for many, they can't or won't make that jump. If you don't believe I don't think you're unintelligent. I get where you are coming from. I see your point. 

But also yes in that, during my years of deconstruction, I felt I kept folding my hand. I would throw some chips on the table to ante up, always wanting to be a part of the game, always desiring to be a part of any conversation going on about God, faith, or the Bible. But when the betting started, I always folded my hand. And after many years of this, it came to the point were I started to ask myself, "You're sitting at the table, always anteing up, hand after hand, but are you ever going to play?" It wasn't that I was playing it safe. I just wasn't playing at all.

And so, I started to push some chips in. Eventually going all in. Because faith, I came to see, can no longer be based on anything but daring. 

This entry was posted by Richard Beck. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply