More to say from Jonathan Martin’s new book Prototype. In Chapter 6, he suggests that perhaps there are two kinds of doubt: hopeful doubting in the direction of Jesus and cynicism in the opposite direction of Jesus.
“Thomas, famously, was the last holdout. You know this if you went to Sunday school because history has unfairly labeled him ‘doubting Thomas,’ as if one moment of his life summed up his entire character. Thomas was surely known to his friends for many other things. He may have been the disciple who always brought the coleslaw – ‘old coleslaw Thomas’ to the other guys . . . It’s true that Thomas was a doubter, but he was not a cynic, and that’s an important distinction. Cynics often look for reasons not to believe and won’t be moved by something beautiful – just to make a point – even if it’s staring them down. Thomas wasn’t a cynic, he was a hopeful doubter . . . [The following is based on John 20:26-28.] Jesus wasn’t angry at Thomas. When Thomas so desperately needed to feel the wounds (which is how we know anyone is real, incidentally – when we can touch their wounds), Jesus offered His body to Thomas’s probing, intrusive touch. If in order to believe, he needed to touch Jesus in the places where He was hurt, then okay. Jesus is extraordinarily tender to doubters.”
“. . . my doubts do not sum me up any more than they did Thomas. And my doubts are no reason for me not to follow Jesus. I follow Jesus not because I don’t have any doubts. I follow Jesus because in my doubt, He has always been tender with me.”