do either of these work for you?

Thank you all for your help on my last post.  I would like to explain my thinking for each of these titles, but since I won’t have that opportunity in real life, here goes.  With apologies to Eddie Van Halen, does anyone have any noteworthy reaction to either of these? 

1. Don’t Jump:  How Doubt Can Take the Leap Out of Faith

1a. Don’t Jump:  Use Doubt to Take the Leap Out of Faith

2. Don’t Jump: Faith May Doubt But It Does Not Leap

18 Comments

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  1. Mike,

    The first is perhaps more marketable and probably what I would recommend. The second is perhaps more correct (I’m not sure doubt is ever a good thing in the fullest sense–though perhaps a necessary thing. The first carries the subtle implication that doubt is good, though doubt seems to be a product of the Fall).

    I didn’t like 1a at all.

    Overall it seems like #1 is the most workable choice.

    ps. glad I found your blog. My congregation still warmly remembers when you came and spoke with us. It was good to have had you up here. Blessings.

    Josh Gelatt

  2. What’s the deal with jumping/leaping by faith? Have you become charismatic? I prefer to walk. 🙂

  3. I like #1 best.
    Question: Whether in faith or doubt, a leap is required is it not? That is, to doubt is just as much as a commitment as belief. In other words, even to sit on the fence and try to enjoy the view from both sides is itself a commitment; namely, to sit on the fence of suspension.

    Just thinking…

    Consider too the image at my http://inchristus.wordpress.com/2009/04/19/belief-and-doubt/.

  4. I rather like number 2. In my mind A “leap” of faith conveys the idea that there is no real foundation or evidence for the faith that we’re called to. Jesus was an historical figure and His bodily, physical resurrection is historically documented. Our faith is based upon reliable, historical evidence that is open and available to everyone. I just think that the idea of “leap” does an injustice to the historicity of our faith and the veracity of God’s special revelation in the Scripture.

    On the other hand, “doubt” is a quality that can be positive as it has the ability to direct us to make our confession more sure through the study of God’s Word and openness to the Spirit’s leading. For all the negative connotations of the idea of “doubt”, there is a postive aspect that I don’t think we often consider–and “leap”, to me, has no positive aspect whatsoever.

    My faith was no “leap”, but the Lord has used doubt in my life to mature and strengthen my faith.

    Go with number 2. It makes more biblical sense and, as a title goes, it just flows better.

    Jason

  5. I think #2 is awkward. 1a is strange with the imperative, but if you slightly changed it to “Using Doubt To…” it would be better.

    I think #1 is best. And, again, the connection to Van Halen is tennuous at best.🙂

  6. Thanks for your feedback. Originally I had “Don’t Jump: Taking the Leap out of Faith,” but I thought it would be helpful to get doubt into the title, as a big chunk of the book is about that and it would tap into a felt need.

    I like #1 the best, but I’m afraid that it may be confusing to people who think that a “leap of faith” is good and “doubt” is bad. Why, in their mind, would I be arguing to replace something good with something bad? Of course, their confusion illustrates the fideism I am trying to correct, but I don’t want to be too clever and lose people.

    Zac: the connection to Van Halen will not be tenuous if I put his face on the cover and refer to him in every chapter!

    Jason: I agree completely with your reasoning, and it is tracking precisely with where I am going–but couldn’t it also be an argument for #1? What precisely do you think is wrong with it?

    Josh: I thought of you last week when I passed Indian River on my way to Mackinac Island. I hope you are enjoying your bit of paradise–is there anything better than northern Michigan in the summer? And anything worse than the same place in the winter?

  7. Jonathan Shelley August 13, 2009 — 10:51 am

    Mike:

    I’m not really a fan of any of these titles. They all feel forced – like you are trying too hard to be cute and clever. I don’t have any alternates just yet, but if I think of anything, I’ll let you know. Of course, it would be easier to think of something if I had some sample chapters to read!

    I am curious as to how you are going to incorporate doubt as a potentially good thing into your Calvinist definition of faith. I’m not sure I would agree that one uses doubt to strengthen faith or that faith doubts. I think faith has doubts, but it overcomes those doubts (much like courage is not the absence of fear but overcoming those fears to act). But, as usual, if I disagree with your point of view, I’m sure I must be wrong somewhere.

  8. A reaction: Don’t drink the Kool-Aid.

    btw: A footnote should be included referencing the Pointer Sisters as well.

  9. Jonathan Shelley August 13, 2009 — 11:02 am

    Oh, I forgot to add: “Don’t Jump” doesn’t make me think of Van Halen, the Pointer Sisters, or any other song title, but it seems like something you say to a guy standing on the top of a tall building. Maybe not the image you are going for.

  10. Mike,

    As I read #1, it seems to suggest that our faith actually is a “leap” but that it is through “doubt” that our faith somehow comes “back to earth”, so-to-speak; like you’re calling us not to “jump” because the issue of “doubt” somehow grounds us. Maybe the wording here is just confusing me, but I think #2 not only acurately portrays our life of faith but is also clear and succinct.

    In response to Jonathan, I agree that faith overcomes doubt; but I also believe that when we doubt, it can be a vehicle that the Spirit uses to direct us to God’s Word and the promises contained therein and thereby giving us strength and encouragement to “keep the faith”. It is in this sense that I think “doubt” can be a good thing–when it leads us by the Spirit to the Author and Perfecter of our faith. I don’t think it is us as individuals that try to conjure up doubt in our mind and use it to grow spiritually, but that it is the Spirit who uses the doubt that inevitably arises in our minds from time to time to strenthen and mature us in the faith.

    Would anyone here agree with that?

    Jason

  11. Jason,

    Perhaps I am being too formalistic with my definition of “good”. Somehow I don’t think Genesis could have ever read “And God created Adam who harbored some doubt that caused him to be humble in his knowledge of God, and God said ‘this is good'”. Doubt must necessarily be a product of the Fall.

    However, I think I do agree with your overall point; which seems to be that doubt provides a valuable function in the life of a believer. In the midst of the evil world God provides the believer with true faith. However, in this evil world we remain (for the time being) and therefore still suffer its effects. To deny these effects, that is to claim 100% accuracy in our theological or biblical interpretations, is a denial of the painful, limited, and destructive reality which we are still in but from which Christ shall ultimately save us.

    Thus it seems that doubt isn’t good–but recognizing its presence can keep us from a greater evil. Perhaps it is similar to Paul’s thorn in the flesh. Certainly Paul wouldn’t have called this “good” in a theological sense, but he realized it kept him from a greater evil (which apparently would have been failing to recognize his need for Christ and his limitation as a creature before the sovereign God).

    Wisdom requires that we embrace doubt in this life whereas faith recognizes we will be freed from doubt in the life to come.

    Of course, per that logic I must doubt my view on doubt. Darn it!

  12. Josh,

    Upon an initial and quick reading, I don’t think I have any major disagreement with you on doubt being a product of the Fall and therefore not a “good” in and of itself. But your overall emphasis concerning a possible “functioning” good of doubt seems to rest on a negative. You stress that doubt can “keep us from a greater evil”. I agree. But I think it can have a positive bent in that, as I said, I believe that the Spirit can use our doubting to drive us to the grace and knowledge of our Lord and His promises which contribute to our maturity as believers. I believe we can accept both the positive and negative side of this reality of doubt.

    Now, not to monopolize the conversation, but your post has caused me to think of something else (and this may be way beyond the scope of Mike’s original thought). Do you (or anyone) think it’s legitimate to consider doubt a “functioning good” in the Spirit’s use of it to cleanse the Church? What I mean is, can/does the Spirit use doubt to prove that the pseudo believer or the false professor is not a Child of the Kingdom by causing him/her to leave the Body? Can the Spirit use doubt to also accomplish what we see in 1 John 2:18-19 and other passages that deal with those who leave the church? And wouldn’t this be a “good” for the Body?

    I realize my last paragraph is probably not relevant to Mike’s focus on the relation of doubt to faith in the mind/heart of a Christian, so if this is going to take the conversation way off track please do not respond to this part of my post–may main point is made in the first paragraph. Of course, if anyone thinks it helpful…by all means respond!

    Jason

  13. Jason,

    I do agree with you, and this seems to be the point of the believing father in Mark 9:24 (“I do believe, help my unbelief”). But note here doubt is not seen as a positive thing. Recognition and honesty about his doubt did indeed cause him to rely on the Spirit’s grace, but remember he is actually asking to be freed from doubt. I just think we need to be more guarded when referring to doubt as “positive” (but feel free to call me “Mr Negative”). Keep in mind only a few chapters later Jesus calls upon all believers to shed doubt and have (a deeper) faith (Mark 11:23). Also, if Jude 1:22 is talking about believers it would seem to be saying “take pity on” and “offer encouragement and stability” to those believers who will experience doubt.

    But the same scripture that urges us to put away doubt also commands us to recognize our finite status. Deut. 29:29 reminds us that the “secret things belong to Yahweh our God”. Or, as Paul puts it, to recognize that we only see things “dimly as in a mirror”.

    But is this doubt in a technical sense, or simply a recognition of limitation? Also, as to your question–wouldn’t we really be dealing with different terms in that instance? The “doubt” of a believer and the “doubt” of a nonbeliever might be the same word, but it is a completely different term (in a logical sense)–or so it seems to me.

    Apologies to Mike if I’ve become a troll and hijacked the thread.

  14. My thoughts as someone who titles books as part of her job:

    1. Don’t Jump: How Doubt Can Take the Leap Out of Faith

    I do not understand this. Subtitles should be clear. If it’s not understandable immediately, it can either peak someone’s interest so the read the back cover or they will dismiss it becaues they’ve got enough in life to figure out already. The reason I don’t understand it is that to me it seems that doubt is WHY I have to take a leap of faith. This is counterintuitive.

    Plus I don’t like the word “how” in this. Your writing is not “how-to” writing. That is not to say it is impractical, but it is at a higher level than the standard how-to book. “How” suggests a very practical, 10-step plan to me.

    1a. Don’t Jump: Use Doubt to Take the Leap Out of Faith

    Bleah. “Using” would be better than “use” because not only are you telling me “don’t” do something, now you are giving me a command of what to do: “use.” Plus the confusion problem of the first one is still present here.

    2. Don’t Jump: Faith May Doubt But It Does Not Leap

    I get this, but it took two tries. This could be a back cover headline.

    What happened to the title and sub you had on the TOC and synopsis I saw? Wasn’t it

    Don’t Jump: Taking the Leap Out of Faith

    This is much better, I think. It is a positive statement: I don’t have to take a huge, non-thinking leap of faith in order to believe.

    I get why you are wanting the word “doubt” in there (because it’s a positive word to so many emergents and you want to attract those people who think doubt is an essential part of belief) but doubt is an inherently negative word, which is always good to stay away from. Your very first word is “don’t”–a big negative to lead off with. You want to temper that with a positive image, which is why I think the working title I saw was good.

  15. I meant “picque someone’s interest.” Although “peaking” it would be ideal as well.

  16. “Dang it…”

    An engaging and entertaining “trifecta”, E.🙂

    And you sold me on, “Don’t Jump: Taking the Leap Out of Faith”. That sounds like a great title. Maybe Mike can use “Faith May Doubt But It Does Not Leap” as a second subtitle?

    Anyway, I like it!

    Jason

  17. E.

    Good words. I was just trying to shoehorn doubt into the title to attract the doubters. I’ll go back to my original title. I guess that “leap of faith” implies a measure of doubt already, so maybe I’m fine on that front.

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