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New Article - Is it okay to have doubts?

Think Christianly: New Article - Is it okay to have doubts?

Saturday, April 30, 2011

New Article - Is it okay to have doubts?

Real Christians don’t doubt. Or at least that’s the unspoken message you’ll find in most churches today. Well, if that’s true then I guess I’m not a real Christian because I’ve had (and still have) my share of doubts. By the way, your parents and youth pastors have them too! As humans, we all have limitations. We all experience doubts simply because we cannot know everything about everything. So be encouraged, you are not alone. But in order to live with our doubts in a spiritually healthy and faith-building way, we need to be clear about what doubt is and isn’t.

First, as J.P. Moreland and Klaus Issler point out, there is a difference between unbelief, doubt, and lack of belief.

  • Unbelief – someone willfully sets themselves against a biblical teaching (e.g., Jesus is not the Son of God).
  • Doubt – someone has an intellectual, emotional, or psychological barrier to a more secure confidence in a biblical teaching or in God Himself (e.g., I believe God is always there for me, but when bad stuff happens I struggle to believe this).
  • Lack of belief – someone doesn’t believe a biblical teaching or idea, but wants to (e.g., I need some help to believe).

Also, all doubts aren’t created equal; there are different flavors. The two most common are intellectual and emotional doubts. Given a Christian understanding of faith as “confidence or trust in what we have reason to believe is true”—as opposed to ‘blind faith’ or wishing—the recipe for overcoming your doubts is not to somehow dig deep and crank out more faith by holding your breath and concentrating really hard.

What you need to do is have the courage to “doubt your doubts.” Investigate. Seek the truth. Here’s a place to start: (1) be specific about what your doubts are—write them out and list reasons for / against (2) start your investigation by reading the articles in this study Bible (3) remind yourself that you are not the only one who has ever asked this question, and that 99.9% of the time a reasonable answer exists.

Sometimes emotional doubts look like intellectual ones. But the root cause turns out not to be unanswered questions at all. Some sources of emotional doubts: (1) experiencing disappointment, failure, pain, or loss (2) having unresolved conflict or wounds from our past that need to be addressed (3) letting unruly emotions carry us away for no good reason (4) being spiritually dry (5) fearing to really commit to someone.

Emotions are good and normal but they aren’t always right....(read the rest)

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