Where I post regularly online, I’ve recently come across someone else dealing with doubt. This kind of thing seems to happen often and yet, 90% of the time when they are struggling with doubt, I don’t employ apologetics, as much as I love it. I instead seem to have to use analysis to see where they are at error in their current thinking.
Today, I encountered someone who said they were reading their Bible and praying and they seemed to get more and more doubts while their friends around them were telling them that if they seek, they will find.
This kind of stuff makes me sick.
Don’t get me wrong. I value prayer and I value Bible Study. I think those are good things. They’re things that I should do more of also. However, we have to remember that those things were designed for a purpose. Prayer is meant to glorify God, receive forgiveness, give thanks, and make requests. Bible Study is meant to help us understand the Bible better.
This gets us to the problem. The problem is that these are treated as if they were the remedy for the problem of doubt. I don’t see that at all. Now if you are dealing with a Bible contradiction that’s causing doubt, then Bible Study is a good thing. If not, then it might not be what’s best. This is a time to use sources external to the Bible.
Is it okay to say that? You bet it is! Scripture tells us the same thing. We are told that some were given to be teachers, for instance. Could it be that Scripture actually wants us to listen to people who are teachers and learn things? Could it be that we might be wrong about our interpretation of a passage or our holding of a doctrine and need correction? Yes.
We also have today counselors. We have people that are trained to listen to the hurts of others and help treat them. Even while they are not in a professional capacity, good friends are great for this as well. While I think I am able to help people when they are in doubt, there are many times when I’m in the position and it simply requires that I go to my friends.
At root of this often seems to be the need for a certain feeling. Do we really want the truth or do we want to feel like we have the truth? Do we really want certainty or do we want to feel like we have certainty? Do we really want the love of God or do we want to feel like we have the love of God. Now these might not be mutually exclusive at times, but you can have one without having the other. You could have the love of God without feeling it. You could also think you’re feeling the love of God when you’re not. (Ever got a testimony from a cultist?)
This is part of the problem when our Christian culture fled form the rational and went into the emotional side. Now, we have a generation growing up that places truth in the area of feelings. (Could the Emergent Church fall into this category?) I believe this is something that leads to the high divorce rate in America today. If you base marriage on feelings of love rather than the ability of two people to work together and complement one another and lead a family, then what happens when those feelings die?
It’s also a reason I get sick and tired of hearing sermons talk about doing what you feel led to do. Friends. I feel led to do a lot of things that I know I’d better not do. Is it any wonder so many of us can fall prey to ideas from those outside the faith? Mormons tell us that the burning in the bosom is confirmation that the BOM is true. Is it any wonder so many people join Mormonism based on that? (I say this with sadness as a Baptist, but the Mormon church claims to baptize a Baptist church every week.) The New Agers are telling us about their experiences of the divine. Should we believe them? No doubt, these people are experiencing something, but whether the content they derive from that event is true is another case altogether.
For those struggling with doubt, go to GaryHabermas.com and listen to the MP3s on emotional doubt and read the book there “Dealing with Doubt.” Any time I meet a doubter, I send them here. Note that this is for a doubter of course, and not for a skeptic. However, when dealing with skeptics, I always recommend being on the lookout for emotional signs.
We are to be people of truth. Feelings are great and fine, but they are not the basis for truth. It is better to have the truth without feelings than feelings without the truth.