The Problem of Certitude


Gary L. Tandy, is a professor of English and chair of the English Department at George Fox University, wrote about the “problem of certitude” in the life of the church.

“There is a cultural tendency in evangelical Christianity that does not leave room for ‘evolving’ positions, complexity, uncertainty, or doubt.  Rather the assumption seems to be that every Christian should have a clearly defined position on every social issue and even that for some issues there’s only one acceptable position to take,”

Tandy wrote. “When discussing these controversial issues as Christians, can we exercise enough humility to temper our statements? Can we resist the temptations of certitude, realizing that it draws lines in the sand and reinforces stereotypes that non-Christians already carry about those of our ilk? Can we learn the use of conditional phrases like ‘Based on my understanding of scripture’ or even ‘I might be wrong about this’ or, God forbid, ‘my views on this are evolving’? Can we remember Anne Lamott’s friend, Father Tom, who suggests that the opposite of faith is certainty?”