For decades, Tomáš Halík has listened to Catholics confess their sins in the private setting of priest and parishoner. In the Roman Catholic church, the priest is often referred to as the "confessor," rather than the other way around.
Such discussions don't exactly match what Latter-day Saint priesthood leaders do when they meet with church members seeking God's forgiveness. But, on a basic level, these experiences seem much the same: two vulnerable and imperfect humans meeting together to acknowledge weakness and seek reconciliation.
Halík has become better attuned to many of the anxieties that trouble his fellow believers as he has listened to them over the years. People approach him, not only to confess particular sins, but frequently to divulge doubts they would otherwise feel uncomfortable expressing. In a religious culture where people often express their faith in certain and unequivocal terms, those who don't possess the same type of conviction wonder if they belong.
In his book "Night of the Confessor," Halík writes as one who has witnessed that tragic moment when doubt becomes self-doubt — when people begin to believe that their apparently weak faith makes them weak. In response, Halík points to the crucified Christ, whose death in utter vulnerability on the cross paradoxically set the stage for the resurrection's triumph.
Halík has come to believe that some of the "weakest" testimonies (or expressions of belief) can paradoxically be strong. He writes to those who invite him to join them in their unquestioned faith and certainty.
"My dear young friends, maybe I'll accept your invitation one day, after all. But will you be able to bear having me with you when I am unable to experience God's closeness in the jubilation, the slogans, and the upraised arms, but only in that chaste 'perhaps,' in that 'small faith'?"
As a confessor, Halík appreciates the diversity of perspectives within his religious tradition and opens the door to as many who will come. As latter-day scripture suggests, knowledge is not the only spiritual gift on offer.
"To some it is given by the Holy Ghost to know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that he was crucified for the sins of the world. To others it is given to believe on their words, that they also might have eternal life if they continue faithful" (Doctrine and Covenants 46:13–14).
Alongside the most certain expressions of faith, Halik bids welcome to what he calls the small, modest, chaste expressions of faith — the faith of the "perhaps."
Blair Dee Hodges is the public communications specialist for the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship at Brigham Young University and host of the Maxwell Institute Podcast. His views are his own. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.