Doubt: The Soapbox

March 6, 2021      Lent B3     Glendale City Church       Sermon 4 of 8


  • Stage 1: Simplicity.  Right vs. Wrong.  Good vs. Evil.  Safe vs. Dangerous.
  • Stage 2: Complexity.  How do I succeed?  How do I win? 
  • Stage 3: Perplexity.  Last Week and Today
  • Stage 4: Harmony.  March 13 and following
  • Faith After Doubt: Why Your Beliefs Stopped Working and What to Do About It, Brian D. McLaren, 2021

STAGE 3 REVIEW: Moving into a Full Existential Crisis

  • Lose faith in the Authoritarian Pastors of Stage 1 Faith and the LifeCoach Pastors of Stage 2.  
    • Lose faith in simplistic answers to mysterious and perplexing issues in the world.
    • Lose faith in any core truth or one true story.  Everything is relative.
    • Lose respect for leaders and institutions whose actions don’t follow their words.
    • And the wrecking ball begins to do its work.  Deconstruction has begun.  And nothing that you’ve believe in is safe from its catastrophic work.  Your church institution.  The people in your church.  The bible.  God.  
    • You’re all alone.  Any group of people with any leader and purpose is suspect.  You can’t trust it.  If you’re involved at all, you’re on the fringe watching for trouble.
    • You’re either angry, depressed, distressed or all of the above.  You hate that you were tricked into believing in anything or anyone.  You know you can’t trust anyone and yet you crave community and belonging even as you can’t truly belong to anyone or anything.  

LUKE 5.37, 38          No one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. And no one after drinking


  • Speaking and Acting on My Convictions
    • Adventist Teachings—lost members and friends
    • Accepted Part-Time Pastoral Position in a Predominately Black Church
    • LGBTQ Ally: lost most employment opportunities and all speaking invitations
    • Began journey towards changing churches but desperately grabbed a job in Southern California


  • In one way, it is a deconstruction of everything you built up in Stages 1 & 2
    • Anti-authority, anti-groupthink, anti-easy answers, anti-dualism, anti-American Dream
  • In another way, it is the natural outflow of Stages 1 & 2
    • 1: Truth, righteousness, love, integrity—no matter what.  If it’s not true, it’s gotta go.  
    • 2: Dive deeper, follow the evidence and integrate what’s true—continue with devotion to curiosity, flexibility to change direction, wisdom to play the game ethically, change the game or leave the game behind altogether. 


  1. Speak & Act Truthfully: Objective truth & your truth. What’s right is right; what’s wrong is wrong 

JOSHUA 24.15.     Choose this day whom you will serve…. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

2. Renegotiate Relationships: With work, church and family

LUKE 14.26, 27       Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

3. Stand and Fight for Justice: Not for yourself, but for others

JOHN 15.12, 13       This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

LUKE 9.23-27          Then [Jesus] said to them all, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it. What does it profit them if they gain the whole world, but lose or forfeit themselves? Those who are ashamed of me and of my words, of them the Son of Man will be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. But truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.”

You don’t understand what Jesus meant when he said, “those who lose their life for my sake will find it” until you’ve gone through existential doubt. Doubt takes almost everything away. It strips you down to almost nothing. And you feel like you’ve lost your life. But it is right there where the first signs of new life–glorious life–appear. 

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