E108: Pastors Have Doubts?
Questions for Reflection
In each episode, we offer you a few prompts to think about how that day's conversation applies to you. Our supporters over at Buy Me a Coffee now have exclusive access to the PDF versions of all our Questions for Reflection. Join us today!
1. Do you think it’s okay for pastors to have doubts?
2. What do you doubt?
3. What do you believe in 100%?
4. Are there professions that you believe need to be practiced without doubt (like a pastor doubting the Bible)?
Beth Demme (00:03):
Welcome to the Discovering Our Scars podcast.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (00:05):
Where we share personal experiences so we can learn from each other. I'm Steph.
Beth Demme (00:08):
And I'm Beth.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (00:09):
I've been in recovery for 15 years and am the author of Discovering My Scars, my memoir about how what's done in the darkness eventually comes to light.
Beth Demme (00:16):
I'm a lawyer-turned-pastor who's all about self-awareness and emotional health because I know what it's like to have neither of those things.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (00:22):
Beth and I have been friends for years, have gone through a recovery program together, and when I wanted to start a podcast, she was the only name that came to mind as cohost.
Beth Demme (00:28):
I didn't hesitate to say yes because I've learned a lot from sharing personal experiences with Steph over the years.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (00:34):
We value honest conversations and we hope you do, too.
Beth Demme (00:36):
On today's show, we're going to have an honest conversation titled, "Pastors Have Doubts?"
Stephanie Kostopoulos (00:41):
Then we'll share a slice of life and the show will close with questions for reflection where we invite you to reflect on the conversation in your own life. So, what are we talking about today, Beth? So actually, I will say, this is a title that came to me although I'm not a pastor and I had no idea if this was an accurate thing. But you, Pastor Beth, are a pastor.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (01:03):
And so, this is something that I have wanted to ask you. And we are actually currently in December which is a pretty big time for I would think the church in general because it's Christmas.
Beth Demme (01:17):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (01:17):
So, when you actually look past the Santa Claus, there's Jesus right there and you're right there ready to talk about them. So, I just thought this was interesting. Is this true? I guess this is the first question. Do pastors have doubts?
Beth Demme (01:31):
I can't speak for every pastor, but I can say that I have doubts.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (01:36):
What do you doubt? Santa?
Beth Demme (01:40):
Jolly old Saint Nick. I mean, I think that doubt is a healthy part of faith. So, it doesn't scare me to have doubts. It doesn't worry me. It doesn't make me feel like I'm less than. I don't think that there's a need for certainty.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (01:56):
My opinion or my viewpoint in my head ... The stereotype I would think of a pastor. I'm growing up as a child looking up at the pastor at the pulpit and be like, "He knows everything. He knows this God and this Jesus." I didn't look at him as God, but I was like, "Oh, he's so sure of himself."
Beth Demme (02:21):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (02:22):
Is that not true? When you're talking about God, are you not sure that there's a God or is that ...
Beth Demme (02:30):
I'm confident that there is a God. I don't think I'm the kind of pastor that people look at me in the pulpit and think that I know everything.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (02:39):
I think they do.
Beth Demme (02:41):
I'm not that kind of pastor.
Beth Demme (02:44):
I don't know exactly what happened when Jesus was born.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (02:47):
On December 25th.
Beth Demme (02:49):
I'm confident that it was probably not on December 25th, but that's okay because we need to celebrate it sometime and that's a good time to celebrate it. And we know that He died around Passover. And there has always been a ... I don't know if you would call it a legend, I don't know, this idea that He died at the same time of year that He was conceived. So, if He died at Passover and then He was conceived at Passover and He was born at Christmas, that's people trying to make sense of things. And that's okay.
Beth Demme (03:35):
And we've celebrated it this way in the church for a long time. And so, I honor that part of it, too. This is part of our church history. It doesn't really matter to me what day when Jesus was born, it matters to me that Jesus was born. The day that it happened doesn't matter so much. And December 25th had already been a pagan holiday connected with the winter solstice. And so, it was a time people were already celebrating. And so it made sense to say, "Well, what we really need to be celebrating here is the birth of the Savior of the world.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (04:11):
But in that respect, does that mean the Christian just stomped over the pagans and said, "We're going to take over this holiday and is now going to be ours?" Like cultural appropriation? I mean, it seems like you're like, "Well, we don't like you pagans over here. We're going to take this and make it ours and not allow the pagans to have it anymore."
Beth Demme (04:33):
I mean, I think that the pagans probably still had it. I mean, you can't stop the winter solstice.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (04:38):
Beth Demme (04:39):
So, I think they just added their own layer of celebration to it. And then as the church grew, it became bigger and bigger. Things were changing. So, when you go to Rome and you go down into the area of the city that's the ruins, you see there are pagan temples that become Christian places of worship.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (05:02):
Did the pagans become Christians?
Beth Demme (05:07):
Many of them did. Yeah. And in the 4th century, all of Rome became, under Constantine, became more like a Christian nation because Constantine and his mother were Christians. But those changes happened in the temples almost like ... I'm trying to think of an example here in town, but like what used to be an Albertsons is now a Publix.
Beth Demme (05:30):
And those things just happen. It's just part of changing growth that happens in a community. Publix didn't culturally appropriate Albertsons.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (05:42):
No, not culturally appropriate but you could say that they took them out. They took over and the little guy couldn't survive anymore. So, if we don't actually know when Jesus was born ... And I get that we just picked a day and, "Okay, we're going to celebrate, this is the day," even though this is not the actual day.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (06:04):
How do we not know when he was born? How is there this whole religion based on these facts and yet they're not facts? There are so many holes. How can you not have ... for me, when I hear stuff like that and when I really look at the Bible, it just puts more holes into my brain and makes me doubt even more things. So I actually don't love reading the Bible.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (06:29):
I know you love the Bible.
Beth Demme (06:30):
I love the Bible.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (06:30):
I know you do. And I have read the full Bible because I've taken your Bible 100 class. I think I have read the whole Bible. But the Bible I feel is very sketchy. That's how I look at it. And I feel that there's a lot of contradictions. And that helped. That puts so many doubts in my brain about like, "Why do I believe this? This seems ridiculous. And this doesn't make sense. And this is really off-putting."
Beth Demme (07:00):
Well, I think that often, churches do a disservice when they teach people to think the Bible is something that it isn't. So, it might be helpful to think of the Bible ... I heard someone talking about this recently, I thought this is a really good analogy that the Bible is a library, not just a book.
Beth Demme (07:25):
And so, if you walked into a library and you said, "Well, something in that book contradicts something in that book. This library is no good," you wouldn't say that. You would go, "Okay. Well, these are in conversation with each other. What can I learn from that conversation?"
Stephanie Kostopoulos (07:39):
Because you call them the books of the Bible.
Beth Demme (07:40):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (07:41):
So, you look at each of them as a separate book.
Beth Demme (07:43):
Right, yeah. Sixty-six different books. It's okay that there are contradictions. I mean, we have four different gospel accounts of the life and ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus. And they don't always agree with each other on some of the details. And that's okay.
Beth Demme (08:01):
This is from Bible 100. There was a time when a man named Tatian created something called the Diatessaron where he synthesized all the four gospels down into one because he didn't like that they didn't always agree. And that started to take off and then churches said, "No, we want the conversation of the four gospels together."
Beth Demme (08:21):
So, in the Gospel of Mark which is the second book of the New Testament, the ministry of Jesus starts at His baptism. God says, "This is my Son with whom I'm well pleased." And that's where it starts. And then Matthew says, "Well, actually, it started at the birth of Jesus so let me tell you about the birth of Jesus and give you some genealogy about what happened before him." And then Luke says, "Yeah, it started at the birth and let me tell you about the shepherds and angels." And then, the Gospel of John says, "Actually, in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God."
Beth Demme (08:55):
They have these different approaches to even understanding the beginning of Jesus's existence or ministry or life.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (09:02):
What do you a hundred percent believe?
Beth Demme (09:05):
I have no doubt that God loves humanity and that God loves me.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (09:14):
Then why are there earthquakes? Why are there tsunamis? Why are there things that destroy the earth? And why are there bad people that destroy other people?
Beth Demme (09:29):
Yeah. Suffering is a huge challenge to understand. And the only way that I've been able to reconcile it for myself is just to know that in any suffering that I have experienced and in a lot of the suffering that I witnessed, we are able to experience God through that. And I don't think that God causes suffering to draw us closer to God. I think it's that the suffering happens and God is with us.
Beth Demme (09:55):
And I think that suffering happens as a result of things like freewill, that we aren't automatons that are programmed to be in relationship with God. And so, we don't always make the right choices for ourselves, for our community. So then there are natural consequences from that.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (10:14):
Well, do you ever doubt God?
Beth Demme (10:17):
Do I ever doubt that God exists?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (10:19):
Or doubt that God loves us or that God has our best interest? Are there things that make you doubt those things about God because you already said you don't doubt that God exists?
Beth Demme (10:29):
Yeah. I don't doubt that God exists. I'm having a hard time separating how I feel right in this moment from how I have felt at other times. Because I know that there have been times when I've been like, "Well, maybe this is too good to be true. Maybe this is a story that I bought into because I need to believe in something."
Stephanie Kostopoulos (10:53):
You've thought that as a pastor?
Beth Demme (10:54):
Yeah. I've thought that as a pastor. Or like, do I need to believe that redemption is possible? And so, I've bought into this human-created idea about how redemption is possible. But I come back to ... Anytime I've had that experience, I always want to talk to God about it. There's this song about how there's a God-shaped hole inside of all of us by Plumb. And I'm like, "Yeah, I think that's true. I think there's a God-shaped hole."
Stephanie Kostopoulos (11:20):
What shape does God have?
Beth Demme (11:21):
Yeah, no shape.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (11:22):
Is it like three heads?
Beth Demme (11:26):
Not so much.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (11:28):
So, what does God-shaped hole look like?
Beth Demme (11:30):
Well, you know.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (11:30):
It's more of a metaphor.
Beth Demme (11:31):
It's just a metaphor. And every metaphor for God is going to break down because God is beyond description.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (11:39):
I guess that's why it's like, how could you not doubt when there's so many holes in the concept of God?
Beth Demme (11:48):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (11:48):
I feel like there are so many holes because God is beyond our understanding. So, we'll never understand how could we not doubt something that we'll never be able to fully understand? I don't think I'll fully ever understand God. Maybe that's just me.
Beth Demme (12:00):
No, I don't think any of us can. I think God is beyond our understanding, beyond our ability to comprehend. I mean, God is eternal. God existed before anything existed. How can that be? God will exist when nothing else exists? How can that be?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (12:14):
Do you think the Pope fully understands God?
Beth Demme (12:16):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (12:17):
Beth Demme (12:18):
And I think the current Pope would say he doesn't fully understand God.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (12:22):
So, what do pastors have to fully understand to be a pastor? Or are pastors just like us but standing up on a pulpit?
Beth Demme (12:29):
Yeah, no, that's it. It's like when I'm standing before a congregation, I'm just sharing with them what I've learned that week or when I'm in the process of learning. It's not, "Well, I have this all figured out and so now I'm here to ...
Stephanie Kostopoulos (12:47):
Well, last week, last episode, you mentioned that you were upset that you cried in front of your congregation during a heavy moment. And you said you were upset because that moment's not about you. So what does that mean as a pastor that when you're a pastor, it's not about you? What is that?
Beth Demme (13:06):
Yeah. Well, when I'm in the pulpit so when I'm preaching, that moment is supposed to be about God communicating with me and with the congregation. It's not supposed to be about me. So, the contrast would be when I was presenting to a judge or a jury, it was kind of about me. I mean, it was about the case but it was about how I was going to present the case.
Beth Demme (13:42):
And it's different in the pulpit. That's the preaching moment and the preaching space isn't ... I'm meant to be like a pipe where God is using me ...
Stephanie Kostopoulos (13:54):
So, the Bible was God's word interpreted by a human, right?
Beth Demme (13:59):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (14:00):
So, that's kind of what's happening when you are doing a sermon is God is giving you a message and you're interpreting it and you're spewing it out to other people.
Beth Demme (14:10):
Yes. I mean, spewing is kind of an ugly word.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (14:12):
I'm sorry. I don't know what the word would be. You're sharing with other people. Well, that's what I'm imagining like God is the water coming right through a hose.
Beth Demme (14:23):
Right, through the pipe, yeah.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (14:23):
And then you are the pipe. And it spews.
Beth Demme (14:25):
Yeah, it spews.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (14:27):
Beth Demme (14:27):
Everywhere. Jesus is getting on everybody today.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (14:31):
In a good way because it's like spews everywhere. The message is getting out everywhere.
Beth Demme (14:34):
Yeah. Luckily, everybody's wearing masks.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (14:36):
Yes. Yeah. So, not too much ...
Beth Demme (14:39):
As the droplets go. I know, bad analogy during this time.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (14:44):
So pastors when they're doing their job, it's not about them. They are just kind of interpreting God's message and trying to share it to the masses.
Beth Demme (14:53):
Yeah. And as I'm preparing a sermon throughout the week, that's a very prayerful process and it's a lot of me saying, "God, let me get out of the way. I don't want this to be about me." It's one of the reasons I wear a robe on Sunday mornings.
Beth Demme (15:11):
First of all, it makes dressing yourself a lot easier. But also because it's not about me or what I'm wearing or how I look, I'm there as a servant.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (15:20):
So, when you are preparing a sermon and God is giving this message, do you doubt the message that you're hearing? Are there pieces that you doubt that you're trying to interpret?
Beth Demme (15:29):
Yeah. That's a good question. That's a good question. So, the way that I have resolved that for myself is ... because there was a lot of that in the beginning. And part of that is the idea of imposter syndrome like, "Why would anybody listen to me?"
Beth Demme (15:40):
But then after you do it, you see that somehow in a way that you can't really explain, somehow the Holy Spirit is working through that moment. And so, every pastor has had this where after church, people will come up and say, "I really feel like you were talking to me," and they'll say what they heard. And you know for a fact you did not say that.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (16:07):
Beth Demme (16:08):
So, something is happening in that moment. God is using that moment. And I know that I'm not anywhere close to perfect and that I don't have to be perfect in order for God to use me which also gives me freedom when it comes to the Bible and to the biblical writers. It's like, "Oh, no, God can use imperfection and brokenness and do amazing things with it."
Stephanie Kostopoulos (16:32):
So, when God's giving you this message, bringing it down the hose and you're writing it down in the old-timey book, this is how I'm envisioning it.
Beth Demme (16:39):
And my [inaudible 00:18:39] pen.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (16:40):
Yes. It's my vision. I love it.
Beth Demme (16:43):
Right. I don't use a laptop or anything like that.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (16:45):
Well, God doesn't approve of technology. I'm pretty sure now unless it's Apple technology then He'll be like, "Sure." He's like, "Get your iPad out. Write with your Apple Pencil." Okay. I can change the view in my head. Okay. There we go, Apple Pencil.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (17:01):
And you're writing the message that God's telling you to share with the masses. Are He's like, "The sky is red." "Sky is red," do you like read that? I mean, "I don't think that's right." Do you still preach something that you're like, "That doesn't feel right to me," because it's not about you, it's about the message that you got from God?
Beth Demme (17:25):
No, because if it doesn't feel right to me, then I know that it's me and not God. Does that sound like a justification? It sounds like a justification but it's the reality about what ...
Stephanie Kostopoulos (17:33):
If I hear something from God that I don't like, then I know, "Oh, that's me. That's trash. I'll take that out." That's what I heard.
Beth Demme (17:42):
I mean, I don't ...
Stephanie Kostopoulos (17:43):
Because you only hear good things from God? Things that you agree with?
Beth Demme (17:47):
No, I think that when it comes from God, I have a peace about it. And if there's something in me that's like unsettled, then that needs more time. That doesn't go in that sermon.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (17:59):
The reason I ask is because you said sometimes God is giving you a message for somebody that ... something that someone needs to hear. And maybe it's something you didn't actually even say, they just heard it.
Beth Demme (18:10):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (18:11):
But that's why I was wondering. If you heard something and you're like, "Well, that doesn't really seem to fit but I'm going to talk about anyways because God told me to talk about it," are those kind of things that happen? Or would you be like, "Oh, no, that's me saying it so I'm going to take it out?"
Beth Demme (18:23):
Yeah, no, that has happened before where I've been like, "I don't know why I'm supposed to say this but I feel like I'm supposed to say it."
Stephanie Kostopoulos (18:30):
Beth Demme (18:30):
Yeah, that has happened.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (18:30):
So it's more like a feeling and you know when it's you versus God.
Beth Demme (18:34):
Yeah. And you learn to trust and it is something you can practice, discerning God's voice as opposed to your own. It's something you can practice.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (18:44):
Beth Demme (18:45):
Yeah. I have doubted whether or why God would want me to be a pastor.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (18:52):
Beth Demme (18:52):
I mean, I don't want to hurt anybody's feelings but it's kind of inconvenient.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (18:57):
What do you mean?
Beth Demme (18:59):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (18:59):
I don't know.
Beth Demme (19:00):
I mean, Stephen and I had our lives planned out pretty well.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (19:04):
Beth Demme (19:04):
And I had a pretty easy path laid out. And then now, I'm working full-time and sometimes it's inconvenient because I would rather just do my own thing, except I don't want to do my own thing because I love this thing. I love this calling. I love being with the church. I love being with these people.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (19:23):
So, do you still doubt whether you should be a pastor or not?
Beth Demme (19:28):
I am not doubting that right now, but I did have ... At the beginning of 2021, I did go round and round and round about it for about three months and really wondered like, "Am I called?" And then decided, "Yeah, I'm called but I also have free will. I don't have to answer this calling. And God and I will still be okay."
Stephanie Kostopoulos (19:53):
Is God okay with that? Did you talk to them about it?
Beth Demme (19:56):
Yes, I talked to them about it. And so, then I had to wrestle with, "Okay, well, I have this choice, what do I do?" This is gross, but kind of verbally vomited all over some people until I got out icky stuff I needed to get out. And then I was like, "Okay, now, I think I can do this."
Stephanie Kostopoulos (20:22):
After having that reckoning, do you still have doubts? Do you think you'll always have seasons of doubt?
Beth Demme (20:29):
Yeah, I do. I do. I think that that's part of my faith journey at least. And from talking to people, I think that it's a pretty normal part of a faith journey. And that's why when pastors do come in really hot and heavy with certainty or with biblical fundamentalism or something called biblical inerrancy where the Bible as we have it today is without error, I think it really can cost people something.
Beth Demme (21:01):
Because, I don't know, that kind of idolatry is not healthy. I mean, faith and doubt are not opposites, they're companions and partners.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (21:12):
In what way? Do you always have both?
Beth Demme (21:17):
I think so because if you don't have doubts, what do you need faith for? If you know everything a hundred percent, you don't have faith in anything, you have knowledge. So I think faith and doubt are companions.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (21:32):
So, do you doubt anything that's not faith-related if we know you doubt faith?
Beth Demme (21:37):
Right. No, I mean, I doubt a lot of things. I doubt a lot of things. I think you do, too.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (21:45):
I have no doubts. This one is great.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (21:50):
I mean, I don't doubt our government in any way, shape or form. I love the government, all of our human institutions.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (21:57):
Our legal system, our police force, they are all top notch.
Beth Demme (22:03):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (22:04):
To clarify that sarcasm, I have a lot of doubts. Yeah, I doubt a lot of things. I mean, I doubt my faith for sure. But even all of the Bible, all of those things, I have so much doubt in that but even that doubt doesn't make me lose my faith.
Beth Demme (22:27):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (22:27):
And I think that goes ... For me, that shows me that I have a strong faith. That's something that I don't think is going to break down. But if I did go through a season where I was like, "There's no God," we've talked about that, like God's big enough to be okay with that and to help me with that and through that.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (22:50):
I doubt all of the excess stuff. I doubt the church. You know that!
Beth Demme (22:55):
Yeah, sure. Yeah. I mean, I think any human institution is worthy of doubt.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (23:00):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (23:01):
I mean, I doubt our government, definitely our current Florida staff.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (23:08):
It's not a great here.
Beth Demme (23:09):
I now doubt what I have learned as history. And I now doubt the accuracy of it or the veracity of it.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (23:19):
Which can be scary. Doubt can be scary because then it's like your whole ... I think a lot of us our whole life has been created ... there's things we choose in life because of things we learned and know about the world. And I think that can be scary when you realize that those things are wrong. And there are people that can accept that.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (23:44):
I feel that I have kind of continued to keep myself open to, "I believe this but it might not be true. And if I learn new information, then my thoughts and actions can change."
Beth Demme (23:56):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (23:56):
And they have. There's been many things where I'm like, "Oh, okay, I was racist. I did not know that. I'm going to be actively working towards not being racist."
Beth Demme (24:05):
Right. Make a choice to be antiracist, yeah.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (24:08):
Beth Demme (24:09):
Yeah. And the alternative is to decide that we're never going to learn and we're never going to grow, and that just feels incredibly unhealthy.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (24:17):
Beth Demme (24:18):
And I think that's true in faith, too, to be open-hearted about things. And I have said it before but I know I'm getting something wrong. I just don't know which things I'm getting wrong. And so, I'm always going to err on the side of trying to be Jesus-like when I can. So, I'm going to err on the side of being inclusive and caring about people.
Beth Demme (24:42):
And I think about the Beatitudes. And I think about Jesus saying things like, you've heard it said, "Love your neighbor. But I'm going to tell you, love your enemy." That's hard stuff.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (24:57):
Do you doubt the church?
Beth Demme (24:59):
Yeah, for sure. I love my denomination. And I doubt it all the time. And I wrestle with it all the time. I think I care about it enough to want it to be better.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (25:13):
Do you think it makes you a stronger person and pastor to doubt them?
Beth Demme (25:17):
I don't know about that. I think that because I'm ... We always talk about self-awareness and how important self-awareness is. I do think that having self-awareness about where I stand with things and where I am with my doubts makes it easier for me to hear people when they have their own troubles with God, or with the church, or with a neighbor or whatever it might be.
Beth Demme (25:42):
People complain to me about the denomination and I just say, "I really hope that you can find a denomination that is perfect. And when you find it, let me know." Or complain about the church, "Okay, this church is not perfect. I hear what you're saying. We can work to be better because I know we're not perfect." And it only hurts my feelings a little bit when people leave my denomination for another denomination. It only hurts just a little bit, but it does hurt.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (26:12):
So, it doesn't hurt that I don't go to church because I haven't left to go to another one, I've just left it?
Beth Demme (26:19):
No, that doesn't hurt. But also I think it doesn't hurt because you and I have talked about it and so I know where you're coming from on it as opposed to somebody who just stops coming and then posts on Facebook that they're somewhere else. And they've gotten re-baptized and just a whole thing. It's a whole thing.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (26:38):
Do you think outside influences like other people or things around us can cause doubt? Like me not going to church, does that lead to doubt in your mind that there's a God?
Beth Demme (26:52):
It doesn't. But I will say that understanding why you don't go to church has been an opportunity for me to reflect on why I do go, and also how the church could be better. But it didn't make me doubt the church more.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (27:13):
Well, that's good, more because you already doubted it so you're like ... okay.
Beth Demme (27:16):
Yeah. I mean, I do think there have been times when I have been faced with questions or when I've watched other people wrestling with questions and it's made me go, "Oh, that's a good point. Let me think about that." But again, because I think that because I see faith and doubt as companions, that hasn't cost me anything in my faith.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (27:44):
I think hearing other people's ... For example, I know a few people recently that have told me that they've left the church completely. They left the church but they've lost their faith. Those are two separate things to me.
Beth Demme (27:57):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (27:59):
I still feel like I'm a very strong Christ-follower. I have a great relationship with they and God and them.
Beth Demme (28:09):
Yeah, the mysterious three-in-one.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (28:11):
But when I hear people talk about actually losing their faith, it's upsetting to hear for me but it never shakes my faith which is interesting which makes me think that when people's choices, when they don't have an effect on mine, it means I have really embraced something and have fully come to terms with it myself.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (28:43):
But if someone says something ... In college, my professor convinced us all to be vegetarians and I was like, "Oh, well, this is great." I had never really contemplated about eating meat versus not eating meat. And then, he gave me all these great reasons that I should. And so I was like, "Okay." And so I let him [inaudible 00:29:04] on me and I became a vegetarian. And then finally was like, "Why?" And just realized that was silly and I eat meat now.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (29:12):
But that was able to put doubt in my mind that it was wrong to eat meat and then I stopped eating it because of this person's influence. But it's because I had never fully digested it myself whether this is something I wanted or not. So, I could see where someone's influence could influence you one way or the other if you had not fully been able to embrace that.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (29:36):
Which is why I think young people, people in their 20s ... I remember being in my 20s and knowing people at that age. You're so influenced by outside because you haven't had enough life experience to really have these decisions yourself. Like, "Do I believe in this? Do I want to follow this?" And so, I think that's why a lot of ... And I think that's why we're seeing a lot of young people not getting vaccinated because they haven't fully been able to make up their own brain about these things and they hear too many outside influences.
Beth Demme (30:10):
Yeah. And we have so many influences now and they all seem to have equal weight that it's hard to ... Okay. Well, this random person on TikTok has exactly the same weight as the director of the CDC.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (30:23):
Beth Demme (30:24):
How did that happen? I mean, it's because we want to think we're smart and we want to think that we know everything, especially when we're in our 20s.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (30:32):
Yeah. So, I would definitely think that people can influence you doubting something and you ...
Beth Demme (30:41):
Can create doubt, yeah.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (30:42):
... can create doubt, exactly. And can create you choosing a whole different lifestyle or choices.
Beth Demme (30:50):
Yeah. And I think again, it goes back to, in some ways, what our foundation is. Like you're saying you have a strong faith because other people losing their faith doesn't cost you yours or people having questions doesn't cost you yours. I think that if your foundation of faith is not healthy, then you might be surprised at how easily shaken it is.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (31:20):
Or if it's not your faith, if it was something that was put upon you by your parents like, "We go to church every Sunday, that's what we do."
Beth Demme (31:29):
Right. Or what if you're taught that God has especially blessed America and that's why we have the prosperity we have, and then September 11 happens?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (31:44):
Beth Demme (31:46):
We're God's chosen. Why that happened. Well, maybe your initial premise wasn't good.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (31:51):
Beth Demme (31:53):
Maybe God loves people in all sorts of countries, all sorts of climates. And maybe our prosperity is really separating us from God instead of drawing us closer to God. There is a great book if anybody wants to read more about this idea. I would recommend to them Sin of Certainty by Pete Enns, Dr. Pete Enns.
Beth Demme (32:20):
It's a great book and he talks about his own deconstruction and how it happens very randomly like after a conversation with someone on an airplane, like what we're saying, how someone else's experience can create doubt for you. And then how it ... I mean, he had a PhD in Old Testament from Harvard. He was well acquainted with his faith and with the Bible and how things kind of unraveled, but then he reconstructed. So, I'll put a link to that in the show notes.
Beth Demme (32:51):
We have a ton of fun making this podcast and we love knowing that you have fun listening. Some of you have asked how you can support us in this work. Well, actually, there is something you can do. We're now on BuyMeACoffee.com. You can go there and become a monthly supporter, or just buy us a one-time cup of coffee, or tea for Steph.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (33:10):
Yup. To show our thanks for your support, we put PDFs of our questions for reflection, as well as pictures, outtakes, polls and more. Your support helps cover production costs like professional transcripts we have made for every episode. And by the way, those are always available on our website with a link in each of the descriptions of the episodes.
Beth Demme (33:27):
One of the great things about Buy Me a Coffee is that you actually get an email when we post new content. You can go straight there and you don't have to deal with ads or being bombarded with other content. You see exactly the content you're looking for without a bunch of distractions.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (33:41):
We post once or twice for each episode and we're excited to get your feedback as members of our Buy Me a Coffee page. There's a support link in the description where you can find out more and to sign up.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (33:56):
Thanks for joining us today. We want to remind you that we are on all podcast platforms. And if you are on one of those platforms like Apple podcasts, you can go down to the bottom and you can rate us. And we would love a five-star rating. That helps more people find our podcast.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (34:12):
But we are also on Spotify. We're on Apple Amazon music.
Beth Demme (34:17):
Yeah, Google podcasts.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (34:19):
Google podcasts. All the things.
Beth Demme (34:22):
All the things.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (34:22):
Every podcast platform, we are there. If we're not on a podcast platform, let me know and I will put us on there, but I'm pretty sure we're on all of them.
Beth Demme (34:29):
It's so exciting to know that we're everywhere.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (34:31):
We're everywhere. And on Facebook.
Beth Demme (34:33):
And on Spotify. Did you say Spotify?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (34:35):
I said Spotify, yeah. And we want to remind you that we have over 100 ... This is 108.
Beth Demme (34:41):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (34:42):
We have 108 episodes. So, the great thing is you can listen to them at any time, at any place. And they're great for road trips. They're great for when you're doing sanding or painting or some ...
Beth Demme (34:55):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (34:56):
Beth Demme (34:56):
If you're doing laundry.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (34:57):
Great for things. And there are free gifts. If you need to give someone a holiday gift, this would be a great gift to share our podcast with them.
Beth Demme (35:06):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (35:06):
And be like, "This is something I think you would love this year to listen to and every year of your life. And here are 108 gifts." I think it's a great gift.
Beth Demme (35:15):
That's really generous. To give someone 108 gifts ...
Stephanie Kostopoulos (35:18):
Beth Demme (35:18):
... that's like Santa Claus-level generous.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (35:21):
You would hate that though. Beth does not like gifts. So, when you give her something, say, "It's not a gift. This is a necessary item for her life."
Beth Demme (35:30):
I do like Christmas gifts.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (35:32):
What? This is new information.
Beth Demme (35:33):
Yeah, that's new information. Yeah, because it's like ...
Stephanie Kostopoulos (35:38):
How is that different than a regular gift?
Beth Demme (35:41):
Okay. So, the problem with gifts is that I do not know how to appropriately express appreciation and so ...
Stephanie Kostopoulos (35:49):
But you do for Christmas gifts?
Beth Demme (35:52):
And so, for Christmas gifts, I don't know, it's easier to know what to do.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (35:57):
What do you do?
Beth Demme (35:59):
Well, I just say thank you.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (36:01):
Why can't you do that during the rest of the year?
Beth Demme (36:03):
Well, I do but I just feel extra pressure when it's not Christmas.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (36:07):
Beth Demme (36:08):
Well, I think maybe because at Christmas, it's more like a mutual exchange.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (36:12):
Beth Demme (36:12):
Whereas, to get a random present during the year when I don't have a way to reciprocate, I just feel uneasy about it. I'm very complicated and these are my feelings and I can't ...
Stephanie Kostopoulos (36:23):
That is so funny because I don't like getting Christmas gifts. I prefer getting random gifts during the year. If someone saw something was like this reminded me of you, I would like that more than like ... Because I feel like holidays are like obligation gifts that you have to get a gift. And I don't like having to give someone a gift or having to get a gift.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (36:46):
But if somebody sees something and it makes them think of me or something, that is a special gift.
Beth Demme (36:51):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (36:51):
So we are completely opposite on that.
Beth Demme (36:54):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (36:55):
Awesome. Completely. That is good information to know.
Beth Demme (36:58):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (36:59):
Beth Demme (37:00):
Yeah. So, actually, a lot of times at Christmas when I have been part of a congregation like I am this year, I'll leave hints about, "It would be great to have some baked goods, something that can be consumed instead of something that I have to use throughout the year."
Stephanie Kostopoulos (37:17):
Telling them that for you, to give you baked goods.
Beth Demme (37:19):
Yeah, if they want to get up and make something.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (37:20):
So you enjoy baked goods.
Beth Demme (37:22):
I enjoy baked goods.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (37:24):
Do you enjoy when people bake them or would you enjoy if Gideon's baked them?
Beth Demme (37:28):
Either way. Either way would be fine. But as long as we're talking about this, let me just say that I prefer baked goods that don't have coconut or nuts.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (37:37):
Okay, no nuts. No nuts at all.
Beth Demme (37:40):
I like peanuts but sparingly.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (37:42):
Interesting. You don't like a crunch? You don't like a crunch?
Beth Demme (37:45):
I don't like pecans which are a challenge at Christmas. I don't like walnuts or almonds.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (37:53):
They're very good for your heart.
Beth Demme (37:56):
My heart's doing good. My heart and I.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (37:59):
I got to [inaudible 00:08:00] a hole in it but I'm fine. Metaphorically, not a real hole. No walnut hole there, it's good.
Beth Demme (38:11):
Well, since it is Christmastime and we do like to share a slice of life, is there a Christmas tradition that you really love? Is there something you really look forward to, something about Christmas Day or anything in the Christmas season or you're just a total bah humbug?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (38:27):
Obviously, I always have to start by saying I hate the concept of Santa. I think that's very clear. I have to make sure that said because if I don't say it ...
Beth Demme (38:36):
I asked you what you love and what you look forward to.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (38:38):
I know but I felt like I had to say that so people remember. And if you want to remember even more, we'll put a link to last year's episode because I really got there with you. I like the advent calendar. I got a dog advent calendar this year for my dogs.
Beth Demme (38:53):
So that like every day, it's a dog treat?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (38:55):
It's a treat or it's a toy.
Beth Demme (38:56):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (38:57):
So, sadly, they have not enjoyed the treat so far. We are in day three. And the first two day treats, they did not enjoy them. They did leave them on my carpet so that was fun to clean. But today's was a toy and [Tash 00:39:14] liked it. So that was exciting.
Beth Demme (39:15):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (39:15):
The cool thing about this Advent calendar is it's like little drawers so I could reuse it. So I could like make my own next year with the treats that they actually like. But I got my own advent calendar. I got a Harry Potter Lego advent calendar and that's super exciting. So, I enjoy the advent calendar concept of Christmas.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (39:33):
I enjoy the feeling of this time of year just like how things are different than the typical time of year. So, I do enjoy the season and I just avoid the silliness of the Santa stuff. So, I'm actually excited. I don't have to go to church anymore on Sundays on Christmas Eve.
Beth Demme (39:54):
We go to church and then we go to Waffle House.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (39:57):
After church on Christmas Eve?
Beth Demme (39:58):
On Christmas Eve.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (39:59):
Fun. What do you get?
Beth Demme (40:00):
Well, I used to always cook a meal on Christmas Eve. And then I was like, "Well, now, I'm working so what do we do?" So, we just go to Waffle House.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (40:06):
But don't you also do a big meal on Christmas?
Beth Demme (40:09):
On Christmas Day, we do have a big meal.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (40:10):
And you do Thanksgiving stuff?
Beth Demme (40:12):
Yeah. I don't know if we'll ... Yeah, I guess we will. We'll have turkey and ham and all the things that we had at Thanksgiving. Yeah. Mashed potatoes. Looking forward to the mashed potatoes.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (40:21):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (40:25):
At the end of each episode, we end with questions for reflection. These are questions based on today's show that Beth will read and leave a little pause between for you to answer it yourself or you can find a PDF on our Buy Me a Coffee page.
Beth Demme (40:36):
Number one, do you think it's okay for pastors to have doubts? Number two, what do you doubt? Number three, what do you believe in a hundred percent? And number four, are there professions that you believe need to be practiced without doubt like a pastor doubting the Bible?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (40:59):
This has been the Discovering Our Scars podcast. Thank you for joining us.
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Mental Health Advocate. Author. Podcast Host. DIYer. Greyhound Mom.
I'm a mom who laughs a lot, mainly at myself. #UMC Pastor, recent Seminary grad, public speaker, blogger, and sometimes lawyer. Learning to #LiveLoved.