I had someone IM me today and they wanted to talk about doubt. They’d lost their faith, so to speak, and seemed content in their new life, but at the same time, they wanted back. I read something they wrote on the process later and really got to thinking a bit more about doubt.
Now I have done some thinking on the topic because like anyone else, I do have times of doubt. There are times I wonder. However, I want to assure any reader of mine. Some of you are thinking “Oh. He’s the defender of the faith and he’s doubting! What about me?!” Let me give the assurance then.
When such happens for me, it is emotional. Here’s how I know. It’s not based on rationality. It’s based on fear. It is simply a “What if” question at times. Those are not based on rationality and they’re snowball effects. You can tell because you can give all the rational reasons you want and it’s “Yeah, it’s convincing, but what if….?”
The main problem is that we treat doubt like it’s a disease. There is something dreadfully wrong with us if we are doubting. Not so. We are simply human beings. Now doubt can become a problem, but doubt in itself is not a problem. It can be a great tool that leads to an even stronger faith than one had before.
Another problem is how the Christian community treats doubt. We think people are unspiritual if they’re doubting. If someone is in doubt, they’re less of a Christian. Biblical people never had doubts. (If you believe that line, you’re not reading the Bible.) We also give these little pet solutions like “Go read your Bible” or “Go pray.”
I’m not against reading the Bible. I’m not against prayer. I’m against them being used as a magical elixir. It makes the Bible and prayer into acts of magic. If you do it enough, then God will take it away. I don’t believe he’s ever promised to do that for us. Prayer and Bible study are not meant to be excuses for laziness whereby we don’t do anything and expect God to do it all.
We all have to eat to live for instance. However, as much as we say God will supply all our needs in Christ Jesus, does that mean that if you want to eat, you should stay home and pray that God will have a pizza delivered to your door? No. You should go out there, work, get money, and then buy the food you need, and who is to say God hasn’t set up the process that way?
Now some study could also be good. If you have rational objections, then you need to honestly look at those. Are there good answers? Now in many questions, you’re not going to find 100% answers. A lot of people think that’s what you have to have. It’s not. I say that you should go with what is most likely based on the evidence.
Keep an eye on your emotions in this time. Gary Habermas has said that men and women both doubt. For women, their problem is that it’s emotional. Their advantage though is that they know that. For we who are men, we will tend to say “It has to be anything besides my emotions!”
No men. A lot of us can have unruly emotions. I ponder that it could be because we are built up with this macho attitude that a real man never shows his emotions. Well what do we do after awhile? We just deny that we have them altogether. However, those emotions are in there and getting more and more mixed up.
To my friend then who is doubting, I say this. “Don’t give up yet.” Now you may say you’re happier now. Irrelevant really. What matters is if your belief is true. Now I have no doubt that as a Christian, you believed the central tenets, but could you have some fake Christianity that was mixed in with real Christianity and so the system didn’t work like you thought it would and that led to a problem? It’s worth looking into.
I also pray for you tonight. I hope you come out of this soon.