I’d like to let you in on a secret. Most people tend to fall into two kinds of categories when they doubt. They are either emotional or volitional. Of these, the former is the far more common. The volitional often know at some area that it is true, but they just don’t care. They want to think otherwise. Rational doubters will be happy as soon as the question is answered. Emotional ones ask “What if” questions?
Be sure though. When these people come to you, they are not going to come out and say that they are emotional doubters or even volitional doubters. They are going to say that they are rational and they will give rational objections. To a degree, these should be answered, but these are largely smokescreens.
There are a number of people on here that I’ve seen that as soon as I see them say something my mind is going “Emotional, emotional, emotional, emotional” When someone comes and admits a personal hurt such as a way Christians have wronged them in the past, you are getting into emotional territory. When you raise a good argument and you get a “Yeah, but what if?”
This will happen to you also when you face the most dangerous critic of the faith you will ever face. That is yourself. When you wake up at night and start thinking “What if?” or when you can’t even get to sleep at night because you are thinking about those objections to the faith. This is when you need to get those emotions under control.
Yes. You can control them. It’s not easy. I still work on it. If you are not happy though, you are the reason you are not happy. Happiness is a choice. It’s a hard choice at times, but it’s still a choice. What you need to do at that time is to remind yourself of the facts and go with them.
These emotions can cause you to focus on the wrong things. Suppose someone comes with something like a supposed biblical contradiction. You have to ask yourself, “Does this outweigh the independent evidence for God’s existence and the fact that he has revealed himself in the person of Christ and raised Christ from the dead?” It’s good to review those arguments at that time and realize that there is most likely an answer to this one as well.
When dealing with the emotional doubter, try to get past the emotional aspect. If that means focusing on it for the time being, then focus on it. I love the rational debate side of course, but when the emotional side comes in, there is a soul at stake and it’s best to concentrate on winning that soul.
By the way, these kinds of things don’t go away overnight. I am a strong perfectionist and I will spend the rest of my life working on that. These tendencies will be there and you will have to keep controlling them. Be prepared for a long haul and don’t think a mountaintop experience means they’re never coming back.
And to my fellow men, I say this. We are at a huge disadvantage here. Most women who are emotional doubters know that they are. We men are very reluctant to admit that we are emotional doubters. We’re men after all! We’re not supposed to be like that. We should often though fess up and admit that we are emotional doubters.
Christians. Be prepared. This is the most common type of doubt you will find and the most common in yourself as well. Learn to control your emotions instead of them controlling you.