“He whose Faith never Doubted, may justly doubt of his Faith.” Robert Boyle. (circa 1650, in his early 20s) Boyle also wrote, “The Dialect of Faith runs much upon the First Person[;] or True Faith speakes always in the First Persen.”

Ted Davis, writing at BioLogos, here, http://biologos.org/blog/faith-and-doubt-two-sides-of-the-same-coin

Dr. Davis points out, “Boyle understood both intuitively and cognitively a crucial fact about religious faith: it is a highly personal matter, and only those who take steps to examine their own beliefs can really lay claim to them and live accordingly. Needless to say, the conceptual box in which Richard Dawkins places religious faith will never hold Boyle’s.”

This article started slow, but when I got to this point above, I was hooked. (It’s not long; click it and enjoy.)

Then Dr. Davis points out this:

“Boyle’s faith was indeed his own, a product of thoughtful reflection as well as religious experience. “I am not a Christian, because it is the Religion of my Countrey, and my Friends,” he confessed at one point. “I admit no mans Opinions in the whole lump, and have not scrupled, on occasion, to own dissents from the generality of learned men, whether Philosophers or Divines: And when I choose to travel in the beaten Road, ’tis not because I find ’tis the Road, but because I judge ’tis the Way” (Reason and Religion, in The Works of Robert Boyle, vol. 8, p. 241). Precisely what Boyle meant by this, is best seen in a highly interesting unpublished treatise “On the Diversity of Religions” that survives among his papers.  “[N]ot only do far fewer religions differ fundamentally than men perceive,” he observed,

but far fewer men follow any of those religions of their own choice than some believe. For it is one thing for a man to profess this or that religion, but another thing entirely for him to choose the best. For the latter cannot be done save by one who has seriously and carefully examined the religion he has embraced in preference to others, and has compared it with them. But unless this serious and deliberate choice has taken place, one cannot legitimately conclude from the number of men adhering to that religion that it is the best. … Thus, when all things are duly considered, we may readily note that there are few who choose a given religion, even though there are many who follow it, for the rest all behave passively, so to speak, each man professing his religion more by chance than by judicious choice.

His overall conclusion was, “That a wise Christian should not be disturbed by the number and diversity of religions” (The Works of Robert Boyle, vol. 14, pp. 255-6 and 237).”

Robert Boyle was a man after my own heart. I hold his words to apply globally, to all religions, but especially specifically to the variety of Christian denominations and sects. It concerns me more to find a person with similar opinions and notional beliefs but shallow thought and commitment to them, than to find a person with whom I can agree very little, but their heart proves open, their motives pure, and reasoning thorough. It concerns me most when I find someone simply dogmatic, even if well versed and studied. There never seems any commitment to truth, and even less commitment to the Lord’s command to love and prefer others above oneself.

Of this I am certain, on that day, God will judge justly and in full righteousness of mercy. Everyone will agree, for each, both justice and mercy were fully satisfied. I strive to never take the judgement lightly. I suspect the more cavalier my attitude, the less standing mercy will have on my behalf.