I have asked a few respected Evangelical scholars and authors to contribute one paragraph each on the issue of Christians and doubt. I was going to post these all in one post, but the paragraphs are turning out to be too substantial to mix together with the others so I will post them one at a time over the next couple of weeks.
Darrell Bock is Research Professor of New Testament Studies, Professor of Spiritual Development and Culture (CCL) at Dallas Theological Seminary (More info on Darrell below).
Darrell, If you were talking to someone who is having significant problems with their faith, doubting whether or not Christianity is true for whatever reason, what would you say to them if you only had one minute?
It is called faith but it is not without reason. Faith means trust or belief. It does not mean you are certain of everything. It means there is a trajectory that in turn leads in faith to a full embrace of what God has done. When it comes to “proving” Scripture or events in it, I cannot do that for all claims. But what I can show is that the direction Scripture takes makes sense (and in places requires a knowledge or describes actions that suggest inspiration). Take one of Jesus’ major claims, that God would vindicate him by bringing him to God’s right hand (See Mark 14:62-63). Jesus was saying in the midst of the dispute with the Jewish leadership that if my tomb goes empty and you cannot find me after you do what you are going to do to me in crucifixion, then you can know God vindicated me and took me to share in divine authority by his side. I will be seated at God’s right hand. That is the point of Peter’s first speech at Pentecost in Acts 2:16-36. Something caused Peter to go from outright fear and denial of Jesus after Jesus was arrested to boldly proclaiming Jesus after the resurrection. The experience of the resurrection appearances and seeing that empty tomb did it for him. God must have acted, a message must be brought to the world of what God has done. Peter’s changed life is a testimony to those who struggle with doubt. Peter feared and doubted, but the assurance of the empty tomb and resurrection “righted” him as he realized Jesus was at God’s right hand, vindicated by God himself. That act showed God’s view of Jesus and endorsement of him and his ministry. That act of God was designed to assuage doubt.
Darrell Bock: B.A., University of Texas, 1975; Th.M., Dallas Theological Seminary, 1979; Ph.D., University of Aberdeen, 1983; postdoctoral study, Tübingen University.
Dr. Bock has earned international recognition as a Humboldt Scholar (Tübingen University in Germany) and for his work in Luke-Acts and in Jesus’ examination before the Jews. He was president of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) for 2000–2001, and serves as corresponding editor at large for Christianity Today. His articles appear in leading journals and periodicals, including many secular publications such as the Los Angeles Times and the Dallas Morning News. He has been a New York Times best-selling author in nonfiction, and is elder emeritus at Trinity Fellowship Church in Dallas.
Find out more here.