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Wrestling with Doubt

08 Jun

I am ready to wrestle with doubt.

I don’t think I could have said that ten years ago or even five years ago. I have been serious about faith, specifically Christian faith, for eighteen years. I think I have always had doubts, but I am just starting to wrestle with them. In the earlier days of my Christian journey, I assumed doubt was the enemy of faith. I assumed to acknowledge the presence of doubt was a sign of weakness or Christian immaturity. So I did what any eager young follower of Jesus would do, I faked it. I hid my doubt. I stuffed it down and ignored it. I convinced myself that good Christians don’t have doubt. I quoted Scripture like a Hindu mantra and hoped doubt would just go away. It didn’t.

I am wrestling with doubt.

Faking it has to be the most fatal of Christian diseases. While there are a number of bad habits that can shipwreck one’s faith, nothing is more fatal than ignoring doubt, stuffing down questions that seem to contradict Christian belief, and just faking it. Pretending to be self-assured (or God-assured) when you are riddled with nagging doubts undermines authentic faith. Real faith acknowledges doubt, calls it what it is, and wrestles with it in order to understand Christian belief more clearly.

On Friday, I picked up The Reason for God by Tim Keller. Keller is the pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church (PCA) in New York. I read the introduction before I got home.
Keller got me thinking about wrestling with doubt. He writes:

“Believers should acknowledge and wrestle with doubts–not only their own but their friends’ and neighbors’. It is no longer sufficient to hold beliefs just because you inherited them. Only if you struggle long and hard with objections to your faith will you be able to provide grounds for your beliefs to skeptics, including yourself, that are plausible rather than ridiculous or offensive. And, just as important for our current situation, such a process will lead you, even after you come to position of strong faith, to respect and understand those who doubt.”

Brilliant.

Wrestling with doubt not only strengthens my faith, but it also helps me understand the doubts shared by skeptics and those outside the faith, so I can more effectively lead them to Jesus. I want to teach on this subject soon.

I want to teach on doubts related to:

1) The existence of God
2) The exclusivity of Jesus
3) The authority of Scripture
4) The problem of evil

My doubts are not related to these subjects. I don’t have any doubt in the first three. I do struggle with the problem of evil. I got some doubts there, but honestly my doubts are not in these subjects. Nevertheless, I want to wrestle with the doubts others have with these issues so I can understand.

fides quaerens intellectum

faith seeking understand

faith wrestling with doubt

This is the Jesus way.

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9 Comments

Posted by on June 8, 2008 in Theology

 

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9 responses to “Wrestling with Doubt

  1. Santosh

    June 22, 2008 at 12:32 pm

    Look forward to hearing what you discover.

     
  2. Daniel

    July 12, 2008 at 6:35 pm

    God doesn’t exist. The doubt that you experience is logic attempting to make sense of the illogical. The farther you delve into your uncertainty, one can hope, you will find the way out.

    Good luck.

     
  3. Derek Vreeland

    July 12, 2008 at 8:04 pm

    Daniel,

    My doubts are related more to how God works rather than his existence. It seems far more illogical to assume there is no God. Why is there something instead of nothing? The universe seems full of the evidence of God. Furthermore, without God there is no hope.

    Our only hope for humanity is to discover God. Without him there is no hope for justice and rightness on the earth.

    Derek

     
  4. Derek Vreeland

    July 12, 2008 at 9:29 pm

    When you look at yourself from a universal standpoint, something inside always reminds or informs you that there are bigger and better things to worry about.
    – Albert Einstein

     
  5. Daniel

    July 12, 2008 at 9:35 pm

    What do you doubt about how god works? Or do you doubt that he works at all?

    On the contrary, humanity’s only hope is to forget religion, and other archaisms which start conflict and compel men to blow themselves up for the sake of their “paradise.” Humanity has proven itself to be able to exist perfectly fine without a theocracy- although old habits do die hard. Until we can collectively move past religion and become a civilization which accepts that it does not understand everything about the universe, and no longer needs god to fill in the gaps of knowledge we can never reach our full potential as a species.

     
  6. Daniel

    July 12, 2008 at 9:37 pm

    “The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this.” – Albert Einstein

     
  7. Derek Vreeland

    July 13, 2008 at 12:18 am

    I agree that religion has done some terrible things and theocracy is not the answer. To me belief in God (theology) is something all together different than religion. Buddhism for example is a religion that makes no reference to God.

    Belief in God, particularly the Christian God, is the hope for humanities progress IMHO. Sure Christians have done crazy and hurtful things in the “name of Jesus.” But we can look at those things and say they are not consistent with the teachings of Jesus. Christian however have been a force for good in the world. The natural sciences are built on a worldview shaped by Christians. Modern hospitals in Europe and the US were founded by Christians. You see many St. Paul and St. James hospitals, but you don’t see as many Marx or Voltaire hospitals.

    Sure their are many things about the universe that we do not understand, but so much that we do understand leads many to see the hands of an intelligent, transcendent Creator. The consistency of nature and natural laws of chemistry and physics, the uniformity of nature, the precision of the earth in its relation to the sun and moon, the complexity of the human body, the necessity of a big “banger” if the Big Bang theory is an accurate theory of the earth’s creation. Einstein was certainly not religious, but he saw the evidence of a Higher Power.

    More so, belief in a transcendent God makes justice possible. How can we claim that poverty and oppression is wrong and carrying for the sick and helpless good, if their is not some moral law giver and judge? If all morality is relative to individual cultures and/or popular opinion, then we have no place to judge the holocaust, genocide, or terrorism. If we agree that some things are wrong even if certain cultures think they are, then are we not appealing to some kind of trans-cultural moral law? Where does such a law come from?

    Just some thoughts…

    Derek

     
  8. Crystal

    July 13, 2008 at 7:42 am

    I’m not going to leave a long rebuttal. I took the time to comment here in hopes of planting a seed of real doubt, one which a Christian of your age must have stifled years and years ago. If you’re really interested in finding out the truth, not “creationist science” reply here

     
  9. Derek Vreeland

    July 13, 2008 at 9:34 am

    For me I have not found the truth, but the truth found me. Jesus said of himself, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” Jesus revealed himself to me is such a real way, such a complete way. I have never been the same. I have found no other philosophy, theology, or religion to compare to him. Knowing Jesus has allowed me to see everything much more clearly.

    I agree with C.S. Lewis, “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.

    My above examples from nature and creation isn’t “creation science,” as has been popularly portrayed. It is just that I find reasons to believe in God in science and creation.

     

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