Seven Reasons Why Christians Doubt

I want to briefly give you some of the more “mundane” causes of why we, as Christians, might experience doubt, whether it be doubt in the existence of God, doubt in his love for us, or doubt in our salvation.

Personality causes: Some people are prone to doubt because it is in their DNA to doubt. Just as some people are more outgoing and others are more socially reclusive. Many of us have a hard time believing anything due to the skeptical nature of our personality. In this case, it is fairly easy to discover if this is a contributing factor to your doubt. Are you skeptical about everything in life? Do you have problems in your marriage due to a lack of trust that is not warranted? Do you find it hard to trust people, even your closest friends? Are you afraid to get on rides at the amusement park that others believe are perfectly safe? There are strengths and weaknesses to this type of personality. The solution is to rationally pursue the truth so as to make a sound judgment and let your thoughts adjust accordingly. Don’t give your personality undue control. Use it to your advantage. (And lay off your wife!)

Historical causes: Like the previous, this affects our ability to trust in general. Unlike the previous, this breach of confidence is brought about by past experiences. Some people have had traumatic experiences in the past that keep them on the edge. This “edge” tempers their ability to trust. It may be something in your childhood or something very recent. Those who have had abusive situations growing up, whether sexual, mental, or physical, find it hard to trust in anything. When one experiences a trauma in their life or a series of traumas, these take their toll on a person. If you have been through this, even though your theology may allow for such, the impact that it has from an experiential standpoint can take its toll and make people “nervous” spiritually and therefore more prone to doubt.

Medical causes: Often people experience chemical imbalances in their brain. This could be genetic or brought about by difficulties, stress, and normal unattended depression. Once the seretonin levels in your brain become imbalanced, people find that they experience all sorts of changes that does not represent who they really are. When the way you think is impacted in such a way, it is sure to have effects on your spirituality. Many people who have gone through such find that their ability to believe God suffers as doubt replaces what used to be certainty. Normally, when the chemical balance is restored, people return to their former self with regard to their faith. This does not make their faith any less sincere as Christians should be able to accept the reality that there is a vital connection between the brain and the soul. One cannot be affected without the other.

Physical causes: As bizarre as it may seem, our physical condition can have an effect on our faith. Eating unhealthy and a lack of exercise can cause us to have tremendous mood swings and even mental depression. This happens for two reasons: 1) Our minds need good nutrition to work properly. When our mind is not working properly, our faith will suffer. 2) While people come in a variety of packages, being out of shape physically can have an emotional impact that can effect everything from our personal security, to our trust in God. When things are not ”the way they were supposed to be,” including our physical condition, we, in some sense, are living outside of the will of God. This can bring us down psychologically and effect our faith in many ways. Often, when people get in shape (relatively speaking—the best shape they are able to be in), their ability to notice and enjoy spiritual pleasures enhances.

Stressful causes: When we place too much on our shoulders, it can affect our relationship with God and cause us to be more prone to doubt. Normally, with stress comes a lack of sleep. Both have tremendous effects on the way we think and how we judge reality. I have been around people who are walking zombies and I have noticed the toll this takes on their confidence in God. I have also seen people who are so worried and stressed about so many projects they have on their plate that spiritual doubt comes easy. Be careful with how much you concern yourself with. It may seem like the right thing to do, but it can be counterproductive to the most important thing—your spiritual life.

Theological causes: I don’t know how many people I have come in contact with who were doubting God and they had every reason to. What I mean by this is that we often doubt God, but it is not really the God of the Bible we are doubting. We assume characteristics about God that are not true. We imagine that God is supposed to protect us and our family from all physical harm. When he does not, we begin to doubt. But the god that we are doubting is not the God of Scripture. When  we believe that God has made promises that he has not, when God becomes the candy machine in the sky, we are setting ourselves up for the fall. Bad theology can bring about so much unwarranted doubt.

Sinful causes: We dare not fail to mention the sinful causes of doubt. When we are not obeying God the way we should, living in sin, we are going to be prone to doubt God at the most fundamental level. Sometimes people use doubt as an excuse for sin, but I think more often, at lease with Christians, people begin to compromise in their lives, taking small yet persistent turns away from God and, because of this, take the exit on the road of doubt. The deeper and more persistent we get into sin, the more we have to pay the piper the heavy cost. Our belief is replaced with doubt before we know it and, so many times, people don’t know how they got there. So often, when people turn away from their sin, they will see the doubts vanish and confidence return. There is a reason God built it this way. You can’t expect to live in sin and not have your beliefs seriously compromised.

5 Responses to “Seven Reasons Why Christians Doubt”

  1. Yet another thoughtful post. That all people struggle maintaining their faith from time to time and for various reasons is something that we often hide as Christians.

    A few analogies might be helpful to understand what is and isn’t faith, and likewise related to doubt. In 1900, the German physicist Max Planck presented his theory of Quantum Mechanics to the Berlin Physics Society. Planck suggested that light is a form of electromagnetic radiation, made up of small bundles called quanta. Although Planck’s theory had enormous explanatory power it was poorly received by the Physics community. One of the recalcitrant facts was that light didn’t just exhibit particle attributes but also wave properties as well.

    In Christian world view their is a common misunderstanding, namely that we hear the Christian story and just choose to believe it (similar to choosing to believe in Santa past the age of 7 yrs old). What is actually happening since Jesus inaugurated his ministry up until today is we are presented with evidence of why Jesus being the Messiah is the best explanation of the evidence. The best theory with the most explanatory power that is. This is where faith begins! Rationality leads us to Jesus. Then we trust the theory and move forward. We will encounter recalcitrant facts such as evil and suffering in our lives that cause us to revise our model. Planck’s quantum theory took decades to gain sway as a foundational theory of science. It was accomplished be scientists working hard on how light could have both wave and particle properties. Scientist work by faith every day focusing on expanding the body of scientific knowledge in their field rather than questioning the foundation of their particular science. So too Christian through rationality have enormous warrant supporting the NT claims and then live their lives based on that foundational belief through faith. As they shore up rationality their doubt subsides. And they focus on becoming Christ-like by…

  2. greater doubt inclinations,? maybe greater ..

    -motivation to seek and lean on the Lord 2 Cor 12:9

    -practice opportunity to sharpen fortress destruction war weapons 2 Cor 10:4-5

    understanding and compassion to comfort brothers with same 2 Cor 1:3-4

  3. Oy … the chemical imbalance theory. This is so prevalent yet it is a THEORY (even the anti-depressant commercials say they are not sure how the drugs work within the neurotransmitters, .. which are not even all inside the brain). There are no tests to run for “low serotonin levels”. I think we should stop spreading this as truth, when there is no way they can test someone for a “chemical imbalance” (in the way that phrase is commonly used for depressed folks). I am in no way denying there can be physical or biological causes that affect our mind, however, the common go-to that “my brain chemicals must be imbalanced” is just a theory.

  4. I think most of the times Christian doubt because they give Satan and his cohorts too much room to get a foot in the door. We need to put on the armour of God and fight with the spiritual weapons God gives us. Keep marching on Christians!!

    God bless.

  5. In the movie, “Contact”, with Jodie Foster, she is given a challenge: “Did you love your father? . . . Prove it!”
    Intangible things require faith and yet few of us would question the existence of them, such as love, or gravity. What we do see are the manifestations of love, or gravity. And please, don’t confuse the two: falling in love is much safer!
    Our relationship with Jesus and the Father is real proof and a bulwark against drifting into doubt. He is with us and makes Himself known to us.

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