So what do you do as a Christian when you're confronted with skepticism, doubts, and uncertainty not from other people, but from your own mind? The postmodern perspective has let people see that the complexity of life and Christianity doesn't really fit the small tidy filing cabinet filled that apparently contains "the truth" that people should believe. Doctrines and Christian ideas once safely treasured suddenly find themselves out in the messy world, where people ignore or trample on them. What do you do when the faith once based on believing those doctrines also finds itself out in the cold, struggling to survive?
Let me tell you of what I did, because it seems to have worked. It's quite simple really. I reestablished my Christianity not on dogma, but on principles. To base my Christianity on dogmas that I questioned was inherently unstable, so I based it instead on principles that withstood the tide of skepticism. So what were these principles? Let me investigate my own mind and hope it is coherent...
Given that I don't know everything, I need to figure out how to live with the relatively limited understanding I have. More important than my current knowledge is my approach and attitude to the knowledge I don't have. Postmodernism seems great at establishing a lack of certain knowledge, but I think we need to go beyond that to deal with that lack - a kind of post-postmodernism. This attitude in light of what I don't know, I think, is what wisdom is all about. If you found yourself lost in a place you had never been before, the most important thing for you is not where you should be, or where you are, but how you go about getting back to where you want to be. Wisdom is not about where you are, but about how you make progress. Similarly with knowledge, wisdom is not about what you know and what you do, but about how you learn and grow. Growing as a person seems to be not about accumulating life experience, but about becoming richer in wisdom, which makes our life experiences somehow better. For my Christianity, this helped me see that how we go about life in our relative ignorance of is far more important than what we know. This in itself somehow made my doubts and uncertainties seem in a strange way irrelevant. So wisdom, I think, is my first principle. And my second would be to grow in wisdom, for obvious reasons - a great wisdom is to seek more wisdom.
So given that I currently don't know most important facts in the world, and even if I did I wouldn't have the capacity to do nearly enough about them - I have to make a few working assumptions about how to live. They might not be the best, but I need to assume them or else I couldn't do anything - and that, I believe, is worse (because it seems to contradict the first two principles). So what principle can I use to guide my assumptions? I can't see that life would be particularly like living without it involving other people. So the on e such principle is that of community - that I should live in relationship with others.
Given that life involves other people, then, I consider as basic the idea that "I" could have been one of the other people, so I should treat as equals - and want as much good for them as I want for me (I know, sounds a lot like what Jesus taught). That, I think, is what love is about. Now I may not know the best way to act for the good of others, or my own good, but that's where wisdom comes in again.
I think life also somehow involves God, perhaps in a significant way. I don't know that with certainty, but I don't need to, because I can live according to the limited wisdom I currently have. Wisdom provides a way to live in the midst of uncertainty. I believe that God wants us to mature into experiencing life in better ways (by becoming wiser, more mature) , so I see no significant difference between a wise way to live if God exists, and a wise way to live if he does not. I seek to grow in wisdom, and I think that is both good and Godly. Because I believe God wants us to grow in wisdom as people, I don't think he will mind my uncertainty about whether he exists or not - that will all be cleared up in a few short decades anyway. And if God does indeed exist, I think he would want to help me grow in wisdom to become more like the person he'd want me to be (which I consider to be a sort of ideal "me").
So I suppose my Christianity is built upon not ideas or doctrines or theories, but upon a disposition towards wisdom. This disposition is about growing and developing in wisdom for the good of both myself, others around me, and maybe even God. That is what my heart is set on. That is what I am committed to. That is what my faith is all about. Uncertainties about doctrines don't really seem to shake that foundation. The philosophies and cultures I am exposed to can't seem to shake it. In fact, I've not come across anything that can shake it. It is basic. It is my foundation. But it wasn't always, and seeing Christians around me trying to balance their Christianity on their own wobbling doubts, I wonder: what do other people base their faith on?