Dealing With Doubt

Doubt is one of those scary words isn’t it? I remember as a kid growing up in church being very surprised when I heard someone had doubts about their faith in Christ. I was even a little scared. Why would someone doubt? Is there a possibility that Christianity is indeed false? If this person, whom I admire, acknowledges having doubts what does this mean for me? Sometimes we respond to this fear by closing our ears. Sometimes we respond by shouting down those questions. Most often, I fear, we make those who have questions and doubts feel as if they are somehow spiritually deficient.

I’ll admit up front there are some things in scripture that are not terribly clear to me. Perhaps it is a failing of my own intelligence, but there are questions I have that sometimes cause me to lose sleep. I hear arguments against Christ, Christianity, or the Bible and it can disturb me. While those questions have not risen to the level of causing serious doubt of Christ, this does not mean that these times of questioning are easy for me.  Perhaps your questions have caused you to doubt. If this is the case, I would like to give you some tips that have helped me as I sort out issues for myself.

First, I try to differentiate between primary and secondary issues. Some issues aren’t critical to belief in Christ. Of course, some of the things I think are of lesser importance, others will think are of great importance. Reaching consensus concerning what is of primary importance is part of the discussion as well, but it is likely, that we will not agree among ourselves on some of these issues. This is okay too. Christianity has been around a long time, and we’ve been having some of the same discussions for about 2,000 years. If understanding our faith fully were easy, we would’ve settled some of these discussions by now. Theology is hard work. Walking with Christ is hard work too. Don’t let the difficulty of the journey discourage you. Great accomplishments are always difficult.

Second, I would encourage you to find an “anchor point” for your faith. Among the beliefs that are primary to Christian faith there are perhaps a few that are true linchpins. That is, without these beliefs Christianity falls completely apart. Among this category of linchpin beliefs one stands out to me as the most critical: the historical fact of the Jesus’ bodily resurrection on the third day after his crucifixion.

Either Jesus was raised from the dead, or he was not. If he was not, then Christianity is false. If he was, then he is the Son of God. If he was, then the story of Jesus told in the Gospels is true. If he was, then Paul speaks to us of the significance of a risen Lord. Working backward into the Old Testament: if Jesus was raised, then the prophets spoke truth because they point us to the Messiah, and therefore their prophecies are also validated by the resurrection. The promises of God to Abraham, Moses, and David are true because they are fulfilled in Christ whose complete sufficiency is assured because he was raised by God. Genesis is true, not because of scientific evidence, but because it telling us the story of our creation and fall as image bearers of the Creator in need of restoration and we see that Jesus placed himself squarely into the story, and the resurrection validates his place in that story. So for me, everything in the Bible is true because Jesus was raised. The resurrection is my anchor point for faith.

There is much more I could say about this, and more I could add as far as learning to deal with doubt. I don’t want to leave anyone with the impression that what I’ve written here is intended to be the exhaustive final answer for those who have doubts. I only want to encourage you to be confident in your faith, and to know that asking tough questions is important. A faith that you haven’t had to wrestle with is probably not as strong as it should be.