Faith and Doubt: Greg Tonkinson (Full Transcript)

Full text of Bible teacher Greg Tonkinson’s talk: Faith and Doubt at TEDxGrandCanyonUniversity conference. In this talk, Dr. Tonkinson explores the relationship between faith and doubt especially when faced with challenges of life.

Listen to the MP3 Audio here:

TRANSCRIPT:

Greg Tonkinson – Spiritual Life Director, and Bible Teacher

This is a 2005 Ford Taurus. This is what the same vehicle looks like, after it has been hit by another vehicle traveling at a speed of 75 miles an hour. When this happens, the amount of energy that is transferred from this speeding vehicle to the vehicle that’s at a standstill will not only cause this kind of damage, but will actually launch the car up into the air, causing it to land, in this case, right on its top.

Now, I would love to be here, giving you another breathtaking TED talk of how I was the one in that vehicle, and somehow miraculously survived. And while this is a story of my recovery, it’s not because I was in that car. But rather, when this car became a nodded configuration of plastic and metal, I was at home with my three children.

It was a rather uninteresting Saturday evening, best I can recall. Kids were in the living room playing, dad was watching TV, when our evening was interrupted by three knocks on the door. And the rest played out much like a movie.

“Good evening. Are you Greg Tonkinson?”

“I am. How can I help you?”

“Sir, my name is officer Prather. This is one of our child caseworkers. This is one of our police chaplains. May we come in?”

“Sure. What can I do for you, officer?”

“Sir, is your wife Leigh Ann Tonkinson?”

“She is. Why?”

“Sir, you may want to sit down for this.”

“No disrespect, officer, but if you need to tell me something, just go ahead and say it.”

“Well Sir, at approximately 7:45 this evening, your wife was killed in a car accident. She was at a stoplight, two miles from here, and was hit from behind. Best we can tell, her neck was broken upon impact, and her passing was immediate and painless. But Sir, we are so sorry for your loss.”

And so, on March 6, 2010, myself along with ten-year-old Kayden, six-year-old Bailey, and four-year-old Malia, began our journey of life without our wife and mother. It’s been a journey of grief that has been burdened by an assortment of emotions, including rage and anger, joy, hopelessness, frustration, even moments of serenity.

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But what has made this trek so especially demanding for me is that I’m a man of faith; not casual faith, but a faith that has defined me for over 30 years; a man of the cloth if you will. My current occupation, my academic achievements, the way I raise my children, all have, at their nucleus, faith.

So, what do you do when your faith has been traumatized by such a traumatic event? What do you do when your identity has been rolled up into a worldview that promotes blessing and favor? When you’ve enjoyed such titles as pastor, reverend, ordained minister, teacher? What do you do when you’ve told people time and time again to trust, and follow, and obey?

What do you do when you earnestly begin doubting the very Subject and that’s with a capital S that you’ve been promoting your entire adult life?

One of the conclusions I’ve arrived at is this: when we talk about faith and doubt, I believe that honest doubting can be a normal experience for a person of faith. This was my last text to Leigh Ann. Somewhat amusing in a rather more rose way to consider that when I asked her this question, she was no longer alive.

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