Joy and Disbelief

The Easter story is a story of perplexing dichotomies.  On Easter Day we heard the story of the resurrection from Mark’s Gospel which ends in a very ominous tone, “they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.”  On Easter 2 we found ourselves in John’s Gospel with the well worn story of Thomas and his disbelief, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”  By Easter 3, you’d think everyone would be on board with the fact that Jesus had actually risen from the dead, but here in Luke’s Gospel we find the disciples with their hands on the wounds of Jesus filled with a mixture of joy and disbelief.  The aftermath of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead is delightfully perplexing.

There is a tendency in the Church to idealize the apostolic age.  In liturgics, we look to it as if there was some sort of monolithic Apostles’ Book of Common Prayer to which we all should subscribe, but alas, it doesn’t exist.  In theology, we look to the Apostles, especially Paul, as the preeminent theologians, those whose theologies should never be questioned.  Even in faith, we tend to ignore the failings of Peter and the persecution by Paul and, to some extent, even the doubting of Thomas and assume that from the very beginning everyone was on board with this whole resurrection business, which is why, I think, the Lectionary spends three weeks reminding us that Jesus rising from the grave was not what the disciples thought was going to happen.

When doubts creep in, and they do for all of us, it is helpful to remember that even the Apostles struggled with faith.  When the world seems dark and gray, when the idea that Jesus triumphed over evil seems impossible to believe, when doubt seems a whole lot easier than faith, it is good to know that we are in good company.  Once we find solidarity with the Apostles, then it seems a bit easier to move back toward faith, to read the great stories of their Acts, to hear of their perseverance, to listen to their witness, and to know that even in the chaos and the darkness, the light of Christ remains.

The life of faith is perhaps best summed up in Luke’s Gospel as a life joy and disbelief.  The Good News is that God is in present in both.

5 thoughts on “Joy and Disbelief

  1. Love reading your articles, but the English teacher in me has to comment on “Christ has rose” in today’s entry. Come-on –” he has risen — he has risen, indeed!” English grammar is not dead — yet.

    • Thank you. I have not proofread anything I’ve written since undergrad, so I’m always thankful when someone else will do it for me. I’ve made the correction. I’ll add, much to your disdain, I’m sure, that grammar was dead at least by the time I was in 8th grade when my teacher told us that we’d never understand how to use semicolons, so we just shouldn’t.


    What is the mode and purpose of water baptism according to the Scriptures?

    What is the mode and purpose of baptism according to denominational tradition?

    First of all it needs to be established that the word baptism was not translated in most translations of the Bible; it was transliterated.

    TRANSLITERATE DEFINED: To change (letters, words, etc.) into corresponding characters of another alphabet or language. Reference:


    Acts 8:36 As they were going down the road, they came to some water; and the eunuch said, “Look ! Here’s some water! Is there any reason why I shouldn’t be immersed?” (Complete Jewish Bible)

    Acts 8:36 And, as they went on their way, they came to a certain water; and the eunuch said, Look, here is water; what is there to hinder me from being immersed? (The Better Version of The New Testament by Chester Estes)

    According to certain man-made denominational traditions baptismal mode is a multiple choice of immersion, sprinkling or pouring. There are no Scriptures stating that Christian baptism is by sprinkling nor by pouring.

    Immersion is the translated word. There is no translation stating, “What hinders me from being sprinkled nor from being poured.”


    Mark 16:16 He who has believed, and has been immersed, will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. (T.B.V.O.T.N.T)

    According to some man-made denominational traditions, he who has believed is saved already and then is baptized in water as an act of obedience.

    Acts 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Let each one of you repent and be immersed, in the name of Jesus Christ, in order to the remission of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (T.B.V.O.T.N.T.)

    According to some man-made denominational tradition men are baptized in water because they have already had their sins forgiven.

    Acts 22:16 And now, why do you delay? Arise, and be immersed, and wash away your sins, calling on his name. (T.B.V.O.T.N.T.)

    According to some man-made denominational traditions, Saul was commanded to arise and be baptized in the Holy Spirit.

    Colossians 2:12 Having been buried with him by immersion, by which also you were raised up with him, through the belief of the strong working of God, who raised him from the dead. 13 And you, who were dead through your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, he made you alive together with himself, and freely forgave us all our trespasses. (T.B.V.O.T.N.T.)

    According to some man-made denominational traditions, men are buried with Christ in baptism so they can be forgiven of the original sin of Adam and Eve.

    John 3:5 Jesus said, Truly, indeed, I say to you, Except one be born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. (T.B.V.O.T.N.T.)

    According to some man-made denominational tradition men cannot enter the kingdom of God unless they were born of amniotic fluid at childbirth.

    Romans 6:4-7 We were, therefore, buried with him by immersion into death; that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, thus we also should walk in newness of life……7 For he who died has been justified from sin.(T.B.V.O.T.N.T.)

    According to man-made denominational tradition, men are walking in a new life the minute they believe in Jesus and they were justified from sin before they were baptized in water.

    According to man-made tradition: Baptism is for a testimony of faith to the community. Baptism is in order to join the denomination of your choice. Baptism is not essential for the forgiveness of sin. Baptism is a work of righteousness. Baptism is for the forgiveness of original sin. Baptism is essential in order to join the Baptist church, but not essential in order to go to heaven.

    Man-made traditions are called man-made tradition because they are not found in the Bible.

    Posted by Steve Finnell at 11:22 AM No comments:
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