Christian churchgoers: what is your church's position on the Apostle Thomas?

Thomas, of course, was one of the two Disciples who did not see the risen Christ when he first appeared to the other ten, and who, when told of the resurrection by his comrades, stated that he would not believe until he saw & touched his Lord for his ownself.

Growing up in the Church of God in Christ

:: ritually spits ::

I was always taught that Thomas was basically a sinner, least of the Twelve save Judas, and that his accounting among the Apostles was at best a courtesy he didn’t really deserve. His doubt was considered an out & out sin, easily as bad as Peter’s denial and a half-step behind Judas’s betrayal.

When I took religion classes at Christian Brothers University, I got a more nuanced view. Or rather views. Thomas’s doubt was considered at worst a minor and understandable error rather than evidence of perfidy; some professors opined that the bad rap given the apostle to India resulted mostly from tensions and rivalries in the early church (specifically his camp and that of the writer of the gospel of John). The fact that Thomas is known as Doubting Thomas was presented as evidence fo politcal manuevering as much as anything else.

I’m wondering what persons from non-Pentecostal churches have been taught about this. It’s not really important whether you currently consider yourself a Christian (I certainly don’t), only that you at one point attended services regularly and remember how the issue was addressed.


Raised as a Midwestern Lutheran, and I don’t recall any particular anti-Thomas rhetoric. I recall his doubt being cast as a bad thing, but not nearly as bad as Judas’s betrayal.

Raised as a Catholic, but I learned more of the Bible later. Earllier in John, Thomas shows courage by offering to follow Jesus into danger. At the Last Supper, Thomas is the one who wonders without Jesus, how will the rest know where to go.

Add in the skepticism, and it seems that Thomas was loyal to Jesus - the man, the teacher, but not necessarily one who recognized Jesus as Son of God. Thomas was cast as the regular guy, who had regular guy doubts, but was still loyal.

But his doubt wasn’t considered anywhere near as bad as Peter’s denial or Judas’ betrayal.

Wow, I attended a United Methodist-affiliated grad school in theology (and knew a few COGIC folks among both the students and faculty), and I never heard Thomas presented in anything but a positive light! The fact that Jesus called him “blessed” (and who the hell are COGIC to disagree!) was often given as proof that although faith is superior to skepticism, doubt in and of itself is not contrary to Christian faith and that even the most rationalist skeptic can approach Christ honestly and receive faith.

I’m an atheist now, BTW–largely a result of my seminary education.

Catholic here. Nothing bad on Good 'ol Tom.

Raised evangelical and attended mainline church as an adult.

At worst, a minor, very understandable flaw and usually not even that. He wasn’t there at the tomb, he wasn’t there when Jesus appeared to the rest of them, and when he finally was in the right place at the right time, he was the one who first called Jesus “My God.” The confession was highly emphasized. It’s also not like he actually insisted on sticking his hand in the wounds, that was just talk.

Yep – in fact, until this thread, I didn’t even know that there were sects that taught that Thomas was a bad guy.

I was raised Baptist and have been in various Evangelical curches before becoming Episcopalian. Thomas was wrong to doubt, but I had a preacher once ask if anyone in the congregation would not have had the same reaction. If someone told you that someone you knew was dead had come back to life, would you believe it without seeing it?

Later on I learned about the probably politics going on between Thomas’ disciples and some others and why he probably got a bad rap in the gospel of John, but I never heard anyone say anything bad about him.

The Catholic Church certainly recognizes him as a saint, which means that, though (like anyone else) he wasn’t perfect, he’s still considered someone we should aspire to emulate. And as far as not being perfect goes, Peter (arguably the chief of the apostles, after Jesus) certainly put his foot in his mouth enough times, too.

Saint and Martyr, so he’s got that going for him too. There’s also a tradition related to the Dormition of Mary that he was the only one to see Mary ascend into heaven, and that the other apostles originally didn’t believe him until he showed them her girdle, which she dropped as she was ascending. So that sort of turns the other Thomas story around.

Yeah, he’s Santo Tomás el Incrédulo (St Thomas the Unbeliever/Doubtful): the one who doubted, but a saint.

I remember a cartoon where he was all sad because he still couldn’t believe and Our Lady reminded him that in the end it’s Love that counts, not Faith.

As a non-Spanish-speaker, if you told me that was the name of a Mexican wrestler, I’d believe you. :smiley:

I can’t recall hearing of Thomas coming in for anything more than a mild chiding, and I’ve tended to see him as a necessary part of the narrative: the audience-identification figure for the sceptics in the audience.

Childhood & teens years spent in the Christian & Missionary Alliance & member of the Assembly of God since college- nothing bad ever said about Thomas. After all, the other apostles didn’t believe either until Christ had appeared to them.

24 But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.

25 The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the LORD. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.

26 And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, BBBRRRAAAAAIIIIIINNNNNZZZZZZZ!!! And there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth.

To add to the refrain, I suppose: my family belonged to the Disciples of Christ, and I don’t recall a single bad thing said about Thomas. It’s possible that I’m forgetting some nuance but I don’t think so. (More recently I’ve learned about Catholicism and I can report more or less the same thing, although I see that’s already been covered.)

When I saw this, I went back and looked at the date for the OP. Nope, it’s just yesterday. Guess this was just a resurrection joke.

Keep your day job. :wink:

Interestingly – or not, I guess – the commentary on John in the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible makes essentially no reference to the scenario, except to call Thomas’s exclamation in 20:28 “the climactic confession of faith in John’s gospel.” On the other hand, although the Catholic Encyclopedia entry on doubt doesn’t reference Thomas, it does reveal that doubt Ain’t A Good Thing:

… which is actually a bit harsher than I expected.

Circular Reasoning: see Reasoning, Circular…

The church I grew up in didn’t take “official positions” on things like this. I don’t remember exactly what (if anything) I was taught about Thomas. I certainly encountered the proverbial phrase “Doubting Thomas”—not necessarily at church—and I’m pretty sure I somewhere encountered the idea that it was wrong of him to doubt (because, as it turned out, it really was Jesus, so he was wrong to have doubted—see the logic?), but not that his doubt made him particularly villainous or sinful.

Looking at the text itself, I see nothing to indicate that Jesus, or the writer of the Gospel, rebukes or disparages Thomas for his skepticism. The reason it was Thomas and not one of the others who “doubted” is that he hadn’t been present on an earlier occasion when the others were.

I went to Anglican schools, where Gospel criticism was a required course. If anything, Thomas seems to be one of the better regarded fellows; sort of “Christ loved him so much that he showed him his wounds so he’d believe”.