Trust Me, I’m an Expert

We are a credential-driven culture.

We love to hear what the experts have to say. We turn to them for advice on everything from buying cars to raising our kids to losing weight. Every field of study has a stable of know-it-alls who have little better to do than wait for those of us who know nothing to turn to them and ask for counsel.

And sometimes they’re right but often they’re not. If you’ve watched any crime show, you know that lawyers on both side of a case can line up expert testimony supporting opposing versions of the argument at hand.

(Of course, on TV you know the best experts because they’re bigger, more attractive stars than the B-roll players they cast to oppose them.) It’s harder to sort it out in real life.

Don’t get me wrong. I love learning. If I could be in school right now, I would. I’d have a string of letters after my name so long I’d have to print my business cards on legal size paper. I love being a student and I’m good at it. I don’t have the time or money to pursue endless formal education, but that doesn’t mean I don’t continually pursue knowledge. I do. So, I’m not anti-knowledge, or anti-education or even anti-expert.

BUT

A word of caution to the faithful:

There is a growing body of expert testimony being built up against the church of Jesus Christ. There is an arsenal of human understanding that is being compiled as a weapon of mass destruction to be used to defend the world against our faith. And much of it is a based on lies, false assumptions, personal agendas and an over-reliance on capricious scientific methods.

Even now, it’s being hauled onto the witness stand in the court of public opinion and it’s delivered in PowerPoints with excellent graphics by presenters who are attractive, clever and articulate. It speaks with the weighty voice of authority like a James Earl Jones voiceover on the History Channel or the Discovery Network or PBS.

Sometimes when we listen, we, too, can almost be convinced.

That’s a secret we don’t share in our small groups once we’ve been Christians for more than ten years. We allow seekers and new believers room to voice their skepticism, their doubt, their hard questions but once we become the answer givers, we begin to hide our own moments of doubt in some closed door back room of our minds but that’s not a wise practice.

We tell ourselves that as mature believers we should be past doubt. We fear that if we share our doubts, we might frighten those who depend on us. So we just shove them into that room, we mentally hoard our shaky faith moments like stacks of old newspapers and fast food wrappers.

But alone, late at night, there comes a knocking from inside that room and when we crack open the door we are besieged by flocks of doubt flapping at our brains like squealing bats. They’ve fed off the blood of the questions we’ve allowed to sour and ferment in secret so now we find ourselves alone and at risk.

But there’s no reason to panic. Really.

There have always been experts.

There have always been those who carry themselves with unusual authority, who wield worldly knowledge like golden scepters and look down over their spectacles at the rest of us as though we were made of something less than they. Take courage from knowing that every tested Christian in history, from Jesus to modern pastors imprisoned in China, has had to face “experts”.

Take heart, also, in knowing that every believer faces moments of doubt. There are dark moments in this world and in those moments, forces come against us and doubts thud into our minds like hooded executioners ready to behead our faith. Don’t be afraid of doubts or hard questions. God’s not.

John the Baptist knew who he was and why he was here. He faced down authorities, he called out the Pharisees, he baptized Jesus Christ and saw the Holy Spirit descend on Him like a dove. But one dark day in prison, John sent his followers to Jesus to ask “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?” I mean really, if you were John and heard that Jesus was healing the sick and performing miracles while you sat locked in prison looking at death, you’d have a couple of questions for Him, too, wouldn’t you?

God loves hard questions. The Bible is full of those who love Him coming to Him in their lowest times and wrestling through the doubts, the fears, the wonder – “Are you really the one?”

Expertise is worthwhile in its proper place. But remember that it was experts who built the Titanic and the Challenger. It was experts who told our mothers that bottles were better for babies and that they didn’t have to be awake during our births. And there were experts who said that if they killed Jesus, then that would be the last anyone would hear of Him and that no one would ever listen to a pack of uneducated fishermen and retired whores. Those experts all turned out to be wrong.

So, this might be a good week to clean out that dark back room. Find another you believer you trust or just have a straightforward conversation with God and let some light shine on those doubts. It’s OK to say “I heard this fact and it really made me wonder about the Bible.” Or “I’m bothered by this aspect of our faith and sometimes I wonder if it’s all real.” Even if you’ve known God for forty-seven years, it’s OK to ask hard questions.

God tells us to love Him with all our heart, our MIND and our strength. He knows what goes on in there. Nothing surprises Him.

Believe me, I know about doubt. I’m an expert.


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4 Comments

    The Conversation

  1. Yes, we all do have low points and wasteland stops. Thanks for being so real.

  2. Mike W. says:

    “I’m an expert about my own opinions” 😉

  3. I think it’s incredibly important to remember what the “Ph” in “PhD” stands for. A “PhD” is a doctorate in Philosophy…and you can have a doctorate in Philosophy in many subjects. All the PhD tells you is that the person has mastered a certain philosophy about the subject at hand. Someone with a PhD in biology will have mastered the (probably godless) philosophy about biology which was taught as his university. He is NOT an expert in biology. If he were, he would acknowledge the Creator unhesitatingly. He is an expert in a certain mindset about biology. That’s a very different thing.

    Thanks for this thoughtful post.