It’s always a pleasure to have author, activist, and public theologian Brian McLaren on Nomad. This time we talk with Brian about the vital role that doubt plays in our faith development. Brian breaks down the faith journey into four stages – simplicity, complexity, perplexity and harmony. He talks about the struggles and joys of each stage, and how it’s only when we embrace our doubts that we can grow and move onto the next stage.
After the interview, Nomad hosts Tim Nash and Nick Thorley ponder the role doubt played in the evangelicalism they inherited, and in the deconstruction and reconstruction of their faith.

Interview starts at 20m 14s

Image used with permission


Brian McLaren


Faith after Doubt: Why Your Beliefs Stopped Working and What to Do About It

The Great Spiritual Migration: How the World’s Largest Religion is Seeking a Better Way to Be Christian


“Sometimes the information that you learn comes in conflict with the simple answers you were given by your authority figures. And that becomes the big task of stage two. I would call stage one ‘simplicity’ – faith before doubt. I would call stage two ‘complexity’ – faith managing doubt.”

“It’s scary enough for ‘sinners’ to fall in the hands of an angry God. It’s much scarier for doubters to fall into the hands of angry Christians.”

“‘The way you define ‘Christian’ – that’s not what I am anymore. I don’t tick your boxes, I don’t fulfil your qualifications.’ But then I might just say something to them as an act of playfulness: ‘Whatever I am, I actually love Jesus a lot more now than I ever have. And whatever I am, I actually see more wisdom and depth in the bible than I ever used to. So, whatever you want to call me, I’ll just tell you: It’s not that I don’t love Jesus, or the bible, or even my tradition. I see depths in my tradition that I didn’t used to see. So, you can call me what you want, but I know who I am.’”

“We have some things that desperately need to be doubted; not to leave us with nothing, but so that bigger and better ways of seeing can emerge.”

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  1. Katherine Thomas May 28, 2021

    Thank you for providing this space to question, learn and listen to a wider church. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to Brian McClaren speak about the stages of faith and can identify with all of them. Through lockdown I have enjoyed time out from church as I and many have experienced it in stages 1 and 2 .Stepping out of the box has given me time to be alone, for silence, to experiece God in the natural world, to take time to be creative, love my family more and time to engage in actions that seek to make the world a better place.. It was helpful listening to Tim and Nick working through and sharing their experience of God and what they have learned in their faith journey so far. Who said being a Christan would be easy? So thank you for sharing so honestly your thoughts and doubts. I am loving reading Brian Mc Clarens book ‘Faith after Doubt’ and learning that doubt is an essential part of our faith journey and growth. Whilst yearning to be more fully into stage 4, I wonder if that is ever attainable this side of eternity.

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