Blog

“Memorize these Two Verses and Call Me in the Morning” or Dealing with Doubt – Part 2

Christians doubt. No, not always. But Christians do doubt. Christians doubt because their faith is not perfect. Christians doubt because we are fallen. Christians doubt because we live in a confusing world that breeds misinformation, impossible expectations, depression, pain, suffering, sin, and skepticism. We doubt all kinds of things from God’s concern and activity to the Bible’s truthfulness. We even doubt God’s very existence.

Thoughts sometimes go through our mind:

“God, why are things falling apart like this? I did what you said. I have always followed you but you are absent from every area of my life. It is not supposed to be like this. Hello? Are you there?”

“God, you say that you will not give us more than we are able to bear, but I passed that point a long time ago. Is your word actually true?”

“I was so sure about everything at one time, now I am not sure of anything.”

“Why did you allow me to believe that for so long? It was false, yet I made it the testimony of my life. What else am I wrong about?”

“The very fact that I am doubting causes me great grief and intensifies the doubt and makes me unstable. I am not supposed to doubt Lord. Where in the heck is this coming from? I thought that if I wanted to believe, it would come. I want to, but it is fleeing from me.”

“I believe—I think—help my unbelief.”

“Are you really the one, or should I start looking elsewhere.”

“God, do you hate me? I know I am a sinner, but you seem to really hate me. Just tell me what I did. Give me a remedy. I am willing to do anything, but this feeling of dread is more than I can bear. God? Are you there?” [Repeat every day for a year until you cease due to exhaustion.]

“Do I really have the conviction of the Holy Spirit, or is this a psychological and cultural belief based on my own desires that it is true? I’m so scared.”

Solution: Step one: Take it to your Church. Take it to the community of God. Take it to fellow Evangelicals. Hold on there partner. . . There are three things that you normally don’t have the right to express in Evangelical circles. The three Ds:

1. Depression

2. Divorce (or just marital problems in general)

3. Doubt

In Evangelicalism, there are, sadly, more often than not, very few counselors to whom to turn. It is no wonder that many secretly seek shelter and refuge outside Evangelicalism. We feel like Saul going to the witch of Endor when we go outside our own fold for help, but we cannot find God’s representative among our own. It is no wonder people eventually become ex-Evangelicals. Our lack of grace, understanding, and transparency—our pride—often keeps us from representing Christ to those who are most in need. Sometimes it is that we are so afraid of admitting our own struggles because that, to us, would admit defeat. Other times it’s that we have never been able to come to terms with our own doubt. If we cannot admit our own, how do we help others? If we have a blacklist of things that you cannot talk about, why shouldn’t they go somewhere else? Who can blame them?

If you have or are going through any of the three Ds, it is only those who are able to admit that they have been through the same that we want to talk to. Everyone else out of the room! Why? Because, for those brave enough to actually express and articulate such thoughts as those listed above to another Evangelical, there is a trained and rote response. After the initial reaction of horror lifts, the all-to-easy cliché answers begin to emerge from our mouths:

“Are you sure you are really a Christian?”

“Have you been reading your Bible?”

“Memorize these two verses and call me in the morning.”

“What sin do you have in your life that you need to confess?”

“You must not have heard this argument.”

“You need to consider whether you are using your doubts to justify your backslidden life.”

“You are demon possessed.”

The problem is that it is hardly ever so easy.

Doubts come in many shapes and sizes. The solution is often more complicated than breaking out a Four Spiritual Laws tract. There are serious doubts. Lingering doubts. Flies in the ointment of our faith. Imperfections and annoyances. Vortex doubts that are the black holes of your mind. You know, the kind that make you feel like you are a subject in the movie The Matrix. Sometimes there are doubts that cause your world to fall completely apart, your life comes undone, and you, the Christian, even dread life itself. You may consider suicide.

It is on the tide of the reality of these types of doubts that we need to move forward in Evangelicalism with compassion and understanding, not judgment and fear. The first step to dealing with doubt is to admit we have them and provide a safe environment where they can be expressed and worked though. Doubt, belief, and unbelief are much more mysterious than we like to think. But one thing I know for certain: Even if I don’t know the “why?” of your doubt, I do know that God is not scared of our doubts. There is no clichés in his world. We need to feel free to express them. Why are we so scared of them?

Please use this time, if you desire, to do one of two things:

1. Express some of your own doubts. The one rule: At this point, I only want people to express their doubts. Please don’t attempt to come in and give solutions. We will talk about how to deal with doubts later.

2. Answer this question: Why are we so scared of doubts?

47 Responses to ““Memorize these Two Verses and Call Me in the Morning” or Dealing with Doubt – Part 2”

  1. All I can say is, with Christian singer Jennifer Knapp coming out of the closet, what do we do with people like her who want to hold onto their faith and their lifestyle? It’s a hard line to walk sometimes.

  2. There are three things that you normally don’t have the right to express in Evangelical circles. The three Ds:
    1. Depression

    2. Divorce (or just marital problems in general)

    3. Doubt

    Only three? :?

  3. I have twice in the past been in the place you talked about above Michael where doubt was so strong in my life that it felt like my life was totally out of control. And it was terrifying. The first time I found myself doubting the very existence of God. The second it was severe doubts about the reality of what Jesus did for us.

    For me the fear was terrible because I knew that according to the Bible it is not possible to please God without faith. And we also know that faith is necessary for salvation. So when faith seemed to be dissolving, or seemed to be alomost totally dissolved, it was an absolutely overwhelming experience.

  4. You’ve mentioned a number of my doubts already. Does God really exist? How do I know? Have I ever really experienced a relationship with God, or just experienced some feelings that I wanted to believe were the kind of thing that other Christians talk about? If answered prayer is evidence that prayer “works,” why isn’t unanswered prayer evidence that it doesn’t? If I really have a relationship with God, why don’t I want to spend more time talking to him? Am I really talking to God when I pray or just talking to myself? Why are other Christians convinced of the truth of the Bible but I find myself wondering? Why are there so many people who used to be committed Christians but now don’t consider themselves Christians at all?

    I’m sure I could think of plenty more.

    When I was a teenager, I didn’t dare mention my doubts at church. I expected to get the typical responses you mentioned above. It also would mean admitting I might have been wrong about converting from the mix of liberal Protestantism and new-agey ideas that I grew up with, to become a fundamentalist Christian. And if I didn’t have faith, but it really was true, would I go to hell?

    As an adult I’ve become less afraid of my doubts, and less afraid to admit to them. I’ve found Christians who accept me as a fellow believer even with my doubts. I’ve found churches where it’s OK to mention doubts. I’ve become less concerned in general what other people think of me. I’ve also become convinced that I’ll never rid myself of all my doubts in this life.

    One significant factor is that 22 years ago, I thought I was facing imminent death, while being raped, and wondered what it would be like to appear before God. In a way it would be a relief to finally know. I found that while I wasn’t 100% sure I would go to heaven, I was sure that God was good and just and whatever He did with me would be right. So if I could have that confidence in spite of my doubts, I could live with them.

  5. Leslie Jebaraj April 14, 2010 at 2:49 pm

    Michael, trust me, this post is providential for me. I am currently going through one of the Ds, and I just met with a Christian “counsellor” who was nasty in not only giving pat solutions, but was SO grace-less to say on my face that I am cooking up stories in telling him my problems. Honestly, I think I would stop going to his place for Bible study. Yes, this happened in the context of “Christian fellowship”, and the guy is the leader. After reading your post, I feel encouraged again! Thanks!

  6. “The first step to dealing with doubt is to admit we have them and provide an safe environment where they can be expressed and worked though.”

    The biggest problem in being able to confide our struggles to others in the faith is their fear. We all have doubts, and for some this is so frightening they deny it at every turn. To let you confess your doubt and struggles is to allow themselves to face their own. Way too frightening for some.

    Which is a shame, because who better understands this struggle than your brothers and sisters who also struggle with it.

  7. I want to confirm what Michael says about the “3 Ds”, and also say that this is not limited to North America.

    My wife spent almost nine months taking care of her mother dying of pancreatic cancer two years ago, and has been struggling with depression since. Of the two Christian counsellors she consulted one told her she was probably demon-possessed, the other said she needs to discover what God is trying to tell her through her depression, not get rid of it. The secular psychiatrist she went to see gave her anti-depressants and chats with her – from mom to mom – about childrearing. Is anybody surprised she prefers the shrink to the Christian counsellors?

  8. Wolf Paul,

    I’m sorry your wife found such bad counselors. I can’t imagine why she would be struggling with depression after such a horrible thing… (/sarcasm)

    I’m currently walking a similar path with my mother, though the specifics are not the same. It’s been going on for almost six years now. As she declines, things are getting worse, and not just the physical stuff. Our relationship has suffered greatly because it’s not easy dying, and it’s not easy watching.

    A conselor who can’t see that it’s normal and to be expected that depression would follow is an idiot.

    No wonder Scripture counsels us to cry with those who cry, and mourn with those who mourn. We’re supposed to help carry each other’s burden, not add more to it.

  9. All Christians deal with doubt sometime, and I’m sure atheist do the same. The problem is that in Christian circles if you express your doubt, people tend to shy away from you as if you had a contagious disease and they might catch it too of they hang around you. I have seen the same with depression. Christians sometimes would rather circle the wagons with people like themselves and shut out those who are depressed or have doubts. In theory, we want to help those who are hurting. In practical terms, we often don’t want to get involved.

  10. Thank you for this chance Michael.
    I feel pretty far gone. As far as my friends know, I’m still the apologetics guy who knows the “answers”, but inside I’m spiritually dead.

    I’m greatly distressed by the many competing Christianities (Catholic vs. Protestant vs. Orthodox…etc.). The fact that, to SOME extent, right belief is essential to salvation in Christianity makes this point all the more upsetting. How could the God of the universe do such a dismally poor job of getting His message across to those who seek to follow Him? Why give us the collection of books that so often seem impossible to reconcile, with so many apparent contradictions (both historical and theological)?

    I hate how completely indifferent we Christians (myself included) are to the things we believe. How can we believe that so many of our friends and family members are possibly on the road to hell and do so little about it? Why are Christians, who believe in eternity in heaven, so absolutely obsessed with the world, with looks, with friends, with possessions, with popularity, and with other pointless pursuits? And if the answer is that many in the pews are not true Christians, how can the churches be so poor in addressing this?

    And since, if we take the “narrow road” passages in the Bible seriously, how can we cope with the fact that such an astronomical number of people will spend eternity in conscious eternal torment? How can we believe this and not despair? Why doesn’t God at the very least snuff them out of existence and end their suffering? If Hell is “God respecting man’s freedom”, then God should respect their desire to cease existing.

    Finally, why must we keep going to such great lengths, including double standards, to defend our faith? Why won’t God make it any easier for those who WANT to believe?

    Part of me wants to give up. These questions are eating me up inside. Thanks for listening, friends. I’ll be watching this series with great interest.

  11. As to your second question, I’m scared of doubts for alot of reasons. My relationships with my Christian girlfriend, my many Christian friends, and my family hangs in the balance.

    Some of them won’t even do a basic Google search on theological issues before asking me for “answers”. They think I’m the smart one, their local example of faith and reason. I don’t want to hurt their faith, really.

    I’ve spent my college major and much self study time to finding out how to truly follow Jesus. If it the doubts show that Jesus isn’t worth following, I’ve wasted much of my life. If Jesus IS the Son of God, then I’m on my way to hell (my doubts have revived many of my old sins…but please not that this exploded AFTER the doubts, and were therefore not their cause).

    I’ve been talking too much. I’ll stop now. Thank you for your time.

  12. On a related note: What *NOT* to say to those who are suffering. Here’s part I and part II.

  13. After losing two loved ones to suicide, a brother-in-law and sister I sometimes doubt prayer. I know it sounds ridiculous but it’s true. I never ceased praying for my sister but eleven months after her husband killed himself she did the same thing. I don’t understand it or why God allowed it.

  14. Truth Unites... and Divides April 14, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    There is a God.

    I’m not God.

    God is sovereign and in control.

    I, a broken sinner, worship the Triune God.

    More or less, I’m at peace.

    Jesus loves me this I know. For the Bible tells me so.

    Satan/Serpent: “Did God really say….?”

    Me: “Yes.”

    Doubter: “…..”

  15. Hmmm. Been through all 3 ‘D’s’at some point in time or another. Hey look at me, I’m in 3-D :P

    Current doubts:

    (and this is a real, on the floor, growling at God, struggle for me at the moment)

    I doubt the usefulness of organised, institutional churches to build up people in faith.

    I doubt the claim that they/it is in any way related to the bride of Christ. I doubt it is even a shadowy representation of the kingdom of God. I doubt ‘communities of God’ where it is easier to minister after you leave than when you are a part of it. Communities where we have to keep new Christians away until they are ‘strong enough’ in their faith to join in.

    I’m also doubting the usefulness of scripture beyond a role as a description of relationships of the past. With all the misuses and abuses, and outright injustices I’ve watched scripture used as an offensive weapon in I can not see how it can credibly be used to teach, much less for correction any longer. I doubt scripture as ‘the word of God’. (try living in ‘evangelical’ circles with that doubt! lol)

  16. “I hate how completely indifferent we Christians (myself included) are to the things we believe. How can we believe that so many of our friends and family members are possibly on the road to hell and do so little about it? Why are Christians, who believe in eternity in heaven, so absolutely obsessed with the world, with looks, with friends, with possessions, with popularity, and with other pointless pursuits? And if the answer is that many in the pews are not true Christians, how can the churches be so poor in addressing this?”

    I feel this way so much and wondered where this joy is that I hear so much about. I share the gospel everyday with someone and I walk around sad and even sometimes mad looking at my family and friends and strangers that I know reject Christ or are too busy to spend even 5 minutes with the Creator of everything that is, was and ever will be. Our faith is not blind by any means and I can honestly say I do not doubt God. Who am I to question Him? But I do doubt myself. There are many times I wondered if I was truly saved because I did not feel transformed, in fact I struggle with my sin daily and sometimes give in but I don’t want to. I guess maybe that is why He tells us not to rely on our thoughts and feelings, because they will deceive us, but to rely on His Word alone. I look forward to this joy I hear so much about, but for now I feel sad for many that can not see.

  17. For me, doubts of the reality of God and His work in the world are fleeting. They seldom stay long. When they do come they now seem to revolve mostly around the questions of “Why?”. Why did God create this world? Why did He create us and let us go through these struggles? Why didn’t He order things another way so that many would not spend eternity in the torment of Hell. Why does He continue with me as I know my heart and failings?

    In these later years I find Him more real than ever before. And much of that came when I quit trying to figure things out and begin to really believe He is my provider and He is more than enough for me.

    Sometimes I wonder if some of our doubts come as we trying reasoning our way to the truth and we end up trusting in our reasoning instead of the Person. It is a subtle difference but very profound.

    There are some many things and circumstances that can set us up for doubt. In my 65+ years I have known my share. Comfort seems to remove some doubts and God the Father is really good at that. He is tender and personal and careful to tend gently to us in our neediness. He is Jehovah Rapha.

    I do not want to suggest that we disconnect our minds and reason in our pursuit of God. But God helps to not let the pursuit become the goal instead of the Person. He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him. He is also big enough to handle any and all of our doubts without upbraiding us.

    What a wonderful Savior He is.

  18. I do not know how we can expect to be imperfect sinners in an imperfect (and often hostile world) and not have doubts, especially living in a culture that is often opposed to what we believe. I certainly have them on a regular basis (some large and some small). I am convinced we need to face those doubts in ourselves and others if we are going to deal them. I have a wife with chronic fatigue syndrome (something many have questioned if it even exists) and have had to struggle over many things due to that such as: why did this have to happen to us. I think the reason people fear doubt either in themselves or others is we often have a superficial idea of the Christian life that includes no struggles and are afraid of any problem for which we cannot offer a quick fix.

  19. J.R., prayer is my current struggle as well in context of many life disappointments. I’ve come to rely more and more on Romans 8:26-27, but then at times wonder if I’m praying the right thing.

  20. http://www.michellegeorge.net/2010/03/10/you-gotta-ask-yourself/

    I am up to my eyeballs in this stuff at the moment…just completed a four part blog post series about it.

    My husband ended up walking away from his faith because of doubts that were pushed away by church people.

  21. Faith is absolute trust in the goodness of our loving Creator and our Savior Jesus Christ. Outside of this, doubt is, for me, part of faith. Doubt allows me to hold theological positions with humility since I cannot know it all.

    I also observe that faith without doubt tends toward graceless and tyrannical dogma.

    Things that cause me doubt:
    My friend Ken Daniels who left the faith.

    Lack of any independent evidence for the Exodus (and other biblical historical facts that defy common sense)

    Millions going to Hell ( and other instances where the God of love seems to promote or condone pain and suffering)

    Living the Christian life. for example: that I can/should be able to hear God (Is that really God’s voice?)

  22. Been through all 3D’s myself, and agree that Christians are often the *last* people you want to go to with them.

    My doubt: the next world. In this world, accidents happen and people are seriously injured. Cars run over nails and blow out tires and cause accidents, things break/collapse causing injury, wiring in houses fail and cause fires–I could go on and on.

    Will none of these things happen in the next world? How’s that work? If we say the next world will have no decay, what happens with all our garbage over an eternity?

    I wouldn’t call this a major doubt, more like something that sits at the back of my mind and bugs me. I can assume that a God who can create this complex universe and then raise Himself from the dead can figure this out. The real doubt, however, is that God doesn’t really exist and all this “next world” stuff is made up in an attempt to deal with the harsh realities of this life.

  23. 1. Why must we believe in a higher evil power to believe in God? This seems contrary to the “Holy Spirit” and God being the Alpha and the Omega and everything in between. Must I believe in Satan to believe in Jesus Christ? If the answer is no doesn’t that change the entire interpretation of God’s word and thus the entire theology of Christianity?

    2. When analyzing the bible I am analyzing other (albeit many others, but all from the same world view) interpretation of a text that I cannot even read in the original languages. Learning about linguistics makes me believe that I must analyze the original documents myself because I do not trust mankind to be inerrant. I also can’t trust that God guided them in choosing the canon because if I believe in God it is a belief that he created the world to operate on set laws of nature and didn’t intervene since. I can only trust my own interpretation.

    3. Would a just God create beings and then condemn them for eternity for coming to the wrong conclusion? Take me for example, I have worked at understanding God and Jesus much more than the average Christian… will they go to heaven and I will be condemned to hell? How does this seem fair? Wouldn’t such a God be unjust and thus not worthy of praise?

    4. What does it mean to be God-fearing? If God is just and I love justice even if it means punishing me when I deserve it, why should I fear God?

    5. Why should I trust ancient men that determined the canon of the bible? Isn’t it possible that God placed sacred texts in other cultures as well?

    6. The similarities between the biblical stories and earlier mythology suggest the former was inspired by the latter.

    7. Why would God think that “knowledge of good and evil” should be kept from Adam and Eve? The only viable answer is because they would then stop worshipping him because they would no longer view him as good. In all other aspects of life knowledge is beneficial. How does Christianity demonize…

  24. 8. The bible is full of obviously ridiculous morals. One verse I recently read was along the lines of “A wife must give her body to her husband whenever he asks to prevent him from straying.” Really? Even when a woman doesn’t feel spiritually connected to the husband? This will alienate her from him, make her feel used, resentful towards the husband and further from the husband and God. If the Bible is the divine word of God then why did he get important stuff like this wrong? He doesn’t sound very smart… seems more likely that a MAN wrote those parts of the bible. Similar arguments can be made about slavery, mutilation, violence, etc.

    9. God seems very human like with a range of emotions that are often irrational. I also recently read scripture about him laughing as he watched those that had disobeyed him reap the consequences of his punishment. He ENJOYED their pain? This is sadistic. Similar parts make him sound jealous, shows he picks favorites, etc. If he is just like a man than the only claim to praise he has is being the creator. That is it though. I don’t want to praise and worship someone that isn’t virtuous just because he gave me life even though I am grateful for that life.

    10. Contradicting statements in the bible.

    If you guys can address any of these doubts I would appreciate it.

  25. Thank you for this post Michael. Before I went off to my conservative Bible college my beliefs seemed so solid. Then as I discoverd how messy the development of a lot of what I held to be plainly true was I began to wonder about what I could really believe. That was 10 years ago…my first encounter with doubt and the realites of the difficulty of faith. Since that time I have had moments of intense doubt. For 2 months in 2003-04 I would lay in my bed and ask, “What would happen if I walked away from Christianity?” Sometimes still it feels as if my beliefs are pieces of confeitie falling to the ground and I am running around trying to catch them. My own doubts are what prompted me to study apologetics in seminary. Yet even with my apologetics training, doubts still come and go. The realization is that faith and the life of faith are about much more than argument and evidence.The frustration is that I have encountered very few Christians who offer anything outside of, “You need to have faith. What do you want, God to answer everything.” I am indeed thankful that the Lord has graciously helped me overcome my doubts about His existence and His Son, but in other areas it often feels like my belief system is the shifting tektonic plates of the earth.

  26. What TDC said…

    and then some.

    Am I actually saved? Does the fact that I care about that question at all an indicator? Why don’t I feel God’s love or peace? Others seem to… Why not me? What am I doing wrong?

    Is the depression I suffer just the result of my own selfishness? If I just tried harder reading the bible and praying would it go away?

    Why are my prayers so empty? Why don’t I eagerly desire to spend time in prayer or in the word?

    Do I actually love Jesus or do I just want not to go to hell? Why don’t I feel a strong passionate love for God?

    Who’s right? We can’t all be right! How do I know if my theology is right or yours or theirs is? You can both back yourselves up solidly and biblically but you’re contradicting each other?

    How can God say thou shalt not murder and then command the Israelites to wipe out the Canaanites?

    And that was just today.

    That’s what most days feel like…

  27. Lisa,

    Let me qualify my former post by saying I don’t doubt prayer and the power of it. The more I’ve ponder prayer and life’s realities the more I see man’s fallacy in determining the hand of God in what we may perceive as an answered/unanswered prayer.

    How does one objectively qualify an answered prayer in the overall scheme of God’s will?

    I have now succumbed to the fact like TUD posted, “I’m not God.” And “God is sovereign and in control.”

  28. I have a friend (a Christian counselor) who states, “There is nothing the nearness of Christ cannot cure”. I believe that as well.

    Do I doubt? Sure, we all do. We are broken flesh. Like Peter walking on the water, his eyes were on Jesus and he was able to stay above the waves. He took his eyes off of Jesus and he began to sink. The same thing has happened to me countless times.

    I am not trying to ‘solve’ anyone’s problem, I am stating that I think some of our doubt comes from when we look to things other than Jesus to solve our problems or concentrate on our ‘problems’ instead of looking into the eyes of Jesus Christ.

    I have been in many instances where the circumstances seemed so hopeless and I cried, “God! What am I going to do!?” And the gentle voice of God spoke to me and said (basically” “‘You’ are not going to do anything”. Then I take a moment to figure out what God is saying and I reply, “Oh, yeah, ok, what are YOU going to do about this”

    I have been listening to a number of debates between Dr. Richard Lane Craig and other various atheists/agnostics. Sometimes it is hard to listen to… Ultimately the question is HOW do you KNOW God is real…because there is always someone who can make an argument against the existence of God.

    I guess if I had one main nagging doubt, it would be “can I ever truly find truth in facts or logic” (or even the Bible)? I think that truth, at some point is attached, to ‘faith’…but that is for another post.

    My last comment for now is that doubt is one of the greatest weapons (if not ‘the’ greatest weapon) Satan uses against believers. And sometimes the doubts we hear in our heads are not really our thoughts at all. They don’t belong to us. But is is Satain whispering in our ears. Satan always speaks to us in the ‘third person’ so that we think the thoughts are really ours.

    We don’t bring our thoughts to Christ to determine if they are true or not (Rom 12:2).

  29. correction: Dr. William Lane Craig, not Richard. (sorry).

  30. Most of my doubts focus on my experience of faith. I was raised in a Christian home with parents who, thankfully, did not try to shelter me from other ideas. However, I still sometimes wonder if I believe only because I grew up in this environment. I never objectively compared competing religions, so although I think I have good reasons for my beliefs, I wonder if my thinking might have always been skewed by the fact that I really, really don’t want to leave the faith.

  31. Thanks for the post. As for my doubts:

    1) Psycology: Im surprised it hasn’t been said so far, but I would say psychology brings in my biggest doubt about Christianity and God Himself. This is because if we say ‘God did this or that’ the reason we think this could just be because we want there to be a God. I was brought up Christian so what if every answered prayer, healing, prophecy, providence, reasoned argument, evidence and personal encounter was seen as reason to believe in God simply because I wanted to believe. And I have never seen or read anything which attempts to solve this problem.

    2) Bible: I have always defended apparent Bible defects from critics well untill I realised no one has ever told me why I should think the Bible was inerrant and infalible, and the one time someone did while I was on a course I found it to be not very convincing. Put that together with modern understandings of how the Bible was put together and apparent contradictions (eg: Judas’ death). Every contradiction has an answer, but why should it need explaining? Something so simply as the way in which someone died should be easy for God to write down clearly twice.

    3) I could continue, but I will finish with; why are doubts so strong. If God is the author of our faith then why is it not more obviously and undeniably true.

    Why are we scared of doubts?, Well we may be looked down for having doubts (I doubt this is true though), if we voice our doubts and no one can answer them it justifies the doubt and if that happens the fear of Hell or non-existance creeps in.

  32. For me, doubt is different. I have (honestly) never doubted God’s existance or the Bible’s truth.

    Rather, the doubt I struggle with has to do with God’s goodness towards me. Has He chosen me? Am I elect?

    It’s the most difficult sort of doubt one can endure.

  33. Kelly@23, 24

    a few brief thoughts,

    1. Must I believe in Satan to believe in Jesus Christ?
    Satan is necessary theologically to account for the presence of evil in a good world made by a good God

    2. … I do not trust mankind to be inerrant. I can’t trust that God guided them in choosing the canon …I can only trust my own interpretation.
    We are all fallible The men who decided on the canon and everyone who interprets the words of Scripture. Scripture if it is the Logos is a translation In a sense of the true Logos from flesh to words. Both are fully human and fully divine. So are all the translations of scripture. I think we need to trust that somehow God works and speaks truthfully to human hearts through those scripture, human as they are. Never perfectly heard but adequately heard.

    3. Would a just God — condemn them for eternity for coming to the wrong conclusion?
    This is a difficult issue. I think God is trying to warn us that spiritual existence is dangerous. Ultimately God is responsible for that. However that means our actions and choices are significant in an ultimate sense. We need to trust that God would not have set up the world this way of it was not necessary. He is not cruel in judgment. He is still good. I cannot understand it but accept it as necessary

    4. What does it mean to be God-fearing?
    Similar to the above. God did not put us into a safe world. We need to follow his lead and directions.

    5. Why should I trust ancient men that determined the canon of the bible?
    We do not trust the canon makers or even the Scripture writers, we trust that God spoke to them all and speaks to us through the Writings.

    …Isn’t it possible that God placed sacred texts in other cultures as well?
    Yes He probably has but the messages must be congruent with the Bible

  34. 6. The similarities between the biblical stories and earlier mythology … This Is evidence that God was accommodating his message to the time and culture of the hearers. Need to see how the God of the Bible is represented theologically in those texts contrasted with the gods of the other myths…

    7. Why would … “knowledge of good and evil” should be kept from Adam and Eve?
    This is a good question to ponder. I suggest not reading this literally but rather understand A&E as types that represent all humankind. Again the trees in the garden indicate that the world thoug created good was also created with danger

    8. The bible is full of obviously ridiculous morals.
    Think about the bigger picture like the socio-cultural context. See if these “ridiculous morals” are not a step up from the prevailing morality before judging them.

    9. God seems very human … describing God in a way that helps us relate
    …. laughing as he watched those that had disobeyed him reap the consequences of his punishment…
    Tough, what is the reference?

    10. Contradicting statements in the bible.
    Shows the human side of both the writers (if they truly contradict) and us (if we have misinterpreted the scriptures. I think many Evangelicals mistakenly interpret the Bible too literally and do not properly balance the human with the Divine in its composition.

    From one who also struggles with these things

  35. Hell.

    Forget the problem of evil in the world. As a Christian, if you have a problem with evil in this world you’re going to have so much more of a problem with Hell that you might as well forget these fleeting couple of years on earth and focus on the eternity of suffering that those who refuse Christ are doomed to, on our worldview.

    The implications of the doctrine of hell mean that all my friends and family members who don’t confess Christ are going there. What if, as hard as I tried, I just couldn’t convince them?

    Am I supposed to believe that despite my ignorance, despite the gaping holes in my logic that they saw straight through, despite the fact that I simply don’t communicate well, despite my arrogance, self-righteousness and every other barrier to faith that I present my unbelieving friends with – they are supposed to see through all those flaws and accept the truth of what I’m telling them about Christ? Really?

    What I and every other Christian they are have met are just too incoherent, too proud, too arrogant, too ambiguous, too obnoxious, too dogmatic for them to receive the message? Is that really their fault? Is God really going to send them to an eternity of Hell?

    Is that really what the Christian worldview leads to?

  36. Why are we so scared of doubt? Because we have a fear of God. Not in the Fear = awesomeness of God kind of way but in the, I worship a demanding, terrible, unwilling to let my followers have a little room for thought kind of God. We fear that doubting God puts us in the goat line that day when Christ comes back. We are so scared of doubt because some preacher or teacher or parent or someone(s) in our past gave us the idea that our God can’t leave room for anyone to use their intellect to think about what it means to be a follower. We fear the hand of God crushing us because of our doubt instead of the hand of God holding ours saying its OK lets talk about this.

  37. I am lucky, I suppose. I went through alot of doubt and somehow emerged victorious. I don’t mean that I have just started ignoring my old doubts, I mean that those old doubts were answered satisfactorily. It isn’t that they were forgotten or cast aside but that they were met head on by experience, truth, books, thoughts, reason, whatever. And that almost all of those old doubts were defeated beyond belief. So, yes, I am quite lucky in that regard. “Lucky”, ha… more like: God took care of that for me by providing answers to each resounding question.

    I don’t know why God answered for me and not for others. I wish He answered for others as well. There is something I have noticed though. The doubters are usually the strongest in their faith; just without realizing it. Doubt means thought is going on, thought going on means focus is going on. If you have focus going on then this is so much better than the apathy or indifference or various idol worship that tends to infect most people. Most people don’t think about it and so are seem to be “strong” in their faith – in reality they are the weakest. The doubters are so much stronger than these people. They are struggling, quite willingly, entering into the arena to fight for the truth and to try to live it. Doubt can be transformative. Perhaps it is one of the best ways to be transformed; I don’t know.

    There is something that I do doubt about myself though. The people who are apathetic, indifferent, and full of idol worship: I don’t know how to reach them. I don’t know whether I should be direct, be roundabout, should be loving (though that usually goes …unappreciated and un-noticed), or whatnot. I have no idea how to shake them up. I know I could convict them, but would that cause them to walk away from the church completely and declare me judgemental? Is it best to not shake them up and let them remain in the church so they might be influenced by the sermons they hear but don’t seem to apply? Hm…

  38. I’m similar to Chuck C. I don’t have much of a problem with believing the basic truth of Christ – It’s the ‘am I saved?’ question that I struggle with. It has three main causes:

    – Experience: I don’t seem to have much ‘fruit’ of salvation, and still yield to the same old sins. I also have no idea what the ‘witness of the Spirit is’. I certainly don’t seem to have it.

    – Doubts about doctrines: I often doubt key doctrines such as justification by faith, penal substitution and the Love of God. Although there are scriptures that can support these, they never seem that overwhelming.

    – Extremists: As I’m interested in authentic faith, I often read those that claim to express it. What I have found is that in reaction to some of the more dubious forms of Evangelicalism promoted in the USA (prosperity gospel, easy believism etc) there seems to have risen a very shrill group of Christians who are convinced 99% of professing Christians are on their way to hell because they’re not holy enough and too ‘worldly’. They link ‘powerful’ and ‘shocking’ sermons online and post articles and blogs, quoting scary scriptures ad-nauseum (‘many will say Lord, Lord”people will have itching ears’etcetetc). They also seem to love the harshest quotes they can find from the likes of Tozer, Ravenhill and other older writers. Their rhetoric against the ‘praying the little salvation prayer’ can be so strong as to heavily imply that God won’t accept anyone who turns to him. Not only does this kind of stuff make me doubt my salvation, It makes me wonder if I want to worship such a graceless, mercyless God that they seem to promote.

    Fortunately, I am blessed by good Christian friends and family that help me through these doubts. I trust one day that the Lord will give me assurance in some shape or form.

  39. Hey there… yes still around just lurking in the shadows. Work is consuming my time quite heavily right now.

    My main doubts ?

    Is it all true ? If God does exist, the Bible makes absolutely sense, even with it’s apparent contradictions. But what does one do with all the ancient art surrounding the so-called aliens ? The “Wheel within a wheel” from Ezekiel ? All the other historic art that’s out there ? It has always fascinated me and it’s the one main thing I have never been quite able to reconcile with my faith. The vastness of space, the possibility of other created beings, etc.

    I know that may sound weird or goofy. But I personally can’t ignore all the archeological “stuff” out there. We like archeology when it matches what we need to “justify” or “validate” the historicity of the Bible, but when we find items that are inconvenient, we tend to ignore those. Personally, I can’t pick and choose what I like out of archeology.

    So what do we do with those “alien finds” ? If they are true, does that invalidate creation ? And if it does, does that mean our faith is empty without a creator God ?

    What do I do with that doubt ? I work through it. Reason through it. Admit I can’t explain it.

    Besides that ? As with many I have the back and forth swinging doubt that God doesn’t listen or isn’t there. But then something happens that I can only attribute to “extreme coincidence” or “divine provision”. Even in friends and loved ones passing away, attempted suicides, drugs, jail, teenage pregnancies. All the “stuff” we faced as a family in the last 12 years. But after the heartaches, depressions and struggles; when the dust settles, we have always been able to look back and see how God has sustained us through it all. I am a lot less doubtful now and know that He is walking next to us. Even in the midst of pain.

    Perhaps that can encourage some of you who are walking those paths now.

    In Him
    Mick

  40. butters, i could have typed that post, especially the last paragraph. i am so encouraged that you have the same struggle/thoughts. That “lord, lord” verse scares me more than life.

  41. Doubt 1 – The logical and philosophical arguments for God seem weaker the more I read

    Doubt 2 – God doesn’t feel close

    Doubt 3 – My church is doing things wrong in a major way

    We’re afraid of doubts because we’re afraid that everything we’ve invested so much of our lives in is completely wrong. Ignorance is bliss?

  42. I’m afraid of my past doubt because it lead me to unbelief (from which I have since recovered), and I’m afraid that the fact that I did not hold my confidence firm to the end and that I fell away means that I put God to such shame that I am counted as unforgivable, that I cannot be saved, since I disbelieved Him (against my will and with endless tears) for a year. Is there grace left for people like me, or do passages like Hebrews 6:4-6, 12:17 mean that God won’t have me back?

  43. Thank you to everyone who has posted here. I have had so many of these doubts – some of which I haven’t been able to formulate as well as all of you have. I wish God would take these things away, but He doesn’t seem to. It is good to know there are others who have been successfully holding on to faith in the face of doubt.
    I am lucky to be part of a loving Christian community that accepts me, doubts and all. They pray with me and cry with me on the days when I wonder if I’m wasting my life by believing in God and trying to follow him. They testify to God’s work in their lives even when I don’t seem Him at work in my life. My roommate is also a Christian, and she doesn’t have major doubts. Although she is often confused by my doubt, and sometimes frustrated by it, she is always loving, and uses her faith to encourage me, not to berate me.
    I’m sorry that so many of you have not seen the church being Christ’s hands and feet of service to you. That cannot help doubt. But just know that there are Christians with strong faith who, although they might not always understand, do accept and pray and do their best to help.

  44. In reply to Lynne…God is love…he does not want you to live in fear. If we do have fear, and I’ve certainly had my fair share of it, then it just means we haven’t been perfected in His love yet. Remember that it is written that Jesus is the author and perfector of your faith…it is nothing from you do that you cannot boast. Trust in Him and ask Him to increase your faith.

    If you have a look at the Tentmaker.com website they have a forum which addresses a lot of the frightening bible verses and will hopefully bring you some peace.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Sökes: Ärlighet och förståelse « Erevna – Blogg & Tankesmedja - April 19, 2010

    […] säga dataskärmen). Efter att ha läst ett inlägg (och alla medföljande kommentarer) på bloggen Parchment and Pen av en broder som genomgår en riktigt svår tid, så blev jag otroligt berörd av hans ord eftersom […]

  2. Blog Posts on Doubt | Christian Doubt - December 18, 2011

    […] also have a three part series on dealing with doubt (part 1, part 2, part 3). And other posts regarding […]

  3. Christian Doubt | The BitterSweet End - May 31, 2012

    […] threatening to overwhelm our trust?  This is a three part series on dealing with doubt (part 1, part 2, part 3). This is a post I found on the site CHRISTIAN DOUBT, but I slightly altered it and added […]

Leave a Reply