We all have our doubts…

It was Benjamin Franklin who once famously said “…in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” In a similar vein, there are two things which can be said to be certain when it comes to God – to know him requires faith, and faith implies the possibility of doubt. In other words, however deep our faith, doubts are things we all have to deal with.

Doubt provokes questions. It is what encouraged the second year pupil at Gracemount High School to put up his hand and ask, “If God made us, who made God?” It is what prompted the sceptical father of Jamie Haith, (leader of Student Alpha), to ask his son, “Were there polar bears on the Ark, and if so, how did they get there?” It is what provokes populist writers like Richard Dawkins to ask,“Why does God need to exist at all?”

However spurious, ridiculous, or even hostile these questions might be, they reflect a popular scepticism we will all have heard expressed by friends, family members, colleagues or neighbours – that the existence of God is increasingly unlikely, and he is either an irrelevance or more likely a bit of a nuisance. In other words, if he does exist, they doubt that he is a force for good at all.

In January 2012 we are planning a series of Sunday morning themes which will challenge these views head-on. Our Aim will be to suggest that God exists, that He is very relevant, and that He is a force for good in a very needy world. The series will look at the question – “Is there a God, and, if so, can he be trusted with my health, my possessions, and even my life?”

There is a famous saying among us Christians that “Even if we do not have all the answers ourselves, we do know someone who does”.  As followers of Jesus, Christians believe that in him we find the clearest expression of God’s truth revealed. Jesus himself famously promised, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 18.31,32). Our questions, therefore, will be aimed at Jesus in person –

  • “What would Jesus say to Richard Dawkins?”
  • “What would Jesus say about banking?”
  • “What would Jesus say about health and healing?”
  • “What would Jesus say about life after death?”

As I said, we all struggle with doubts, so here is a chance to face up to them. And we all know people who are sceptical about what we believe, so here is a chance to invite them along to hear for themselves. You could then invite them to lunch afterwards, or arrange to meet up for a coffee during the week, and continue the conversation.

In the meantime, I wish you the blessing of Gods loving and very real presence throughout Advent, Christmas, and the New Year to come.

Much love,


Richard Dawkins, of course has made a name for himself as the champion of the ideological movement known as ‘the New Atheism’, particularly with his best known book entitled ‘The God Delusion’. This in turn has provoked a number of books written in response, my favourite being ‘The Dawkins Delusion’, by Alistair McGrath. It also produced a satirical play, which was staged during this summer’s Edinburgh Festival, entitled ‘Does Richard Dawkins Exist?’

Passion for a change

I remember commenting on language a few years back, and how, depending on the culture of the day, certain words fall into disuse while others come into fashion. In politics or in business, for example, it is not acceptable to be ‘aggressive’ or ‘defensive’, but it’s OK to be‘robust’. Similarly, ‘zeal’ and ‘fanaticism’ in everyday life are frowned upon, but ‘passion’ is seen as worthy. If you ever find yourself getting worked up about something, your best defence is to say “I’m not getting carried away, I’m just being passionate.”

Like many of the words we use today, passion has its origins in the Christian faith. According to the Oxford on-line dictionary, ‘passion’means ‘an intense desire or enthusiasm for something’. If you dig deeper, however, you discover that its roots are the Latin word ‘passio’meaning ’to suffer’. To feel passionate is to care about something so much that it hurts, and to be willing to suffer to put it right. Jesus’ suffering is known as his ‘passion’. He cared about us so much that he was willing to die for us.

What are the things you feel passionate about? What are the things you long to see changed? This is the theme of the annual conference organised by churches in South East Edinburgh. The Guest speaker is May Nicholson – a remarkable lady. May’s book, ‘Miracles from Mayhem’*, tells the story of how God rescued her from a life of poverty and alcoholism, and set her on the path to freedom and wholeness. It also tells of how God has used her to make a difference in the lives of many others, (including our own Cammy Mackenzie).

May’s story is not only gripping, it is a story of hope in a dark world. Having suffered with the people of Ferguslie Park, Paisley, she has gone on to suffer with people on the streets of Dundee, and is currently suffering with the people of inner city Glasgow. But in all three situations God has used her to bring about change.

For the last few years the speakers at our annual conferences have been known for their knowledge and insight. This year’s speaker is known for her passion. I challenge you to come and hear May tell her story at the Faith Mission Auditorium this November**, and be challenged and inspired to do something about the things you feel passionate about. May’s example has demonstrated that, with God’s help, it is possible.

Much love


*Miracles from Myahem, Christian Focus Publications, 2004

** Passion for a change – a day with May Nicholson