Sunday, July 18, 2010

Doubts About Whether what God's Word Says is True

In my previous post on thinking about doubt I introduced three types of doubt. This is the second of those. In the first type of doubt, our main goal is to find out what God's Word says on a given subject. Until we find out, it is legitimate if not necessary to doubt the truth of something. However, once we find out what God's Word says on a given subject, sometimes we still doubt.

This type of doubt is sinful. The fall of man began with this sin when Eve doubted God's Word in the garden (Gen. 3:1-6). What we are essentially saying at this point is: "I know God says this is true, but I doubt it is true." To do so is to doubt God's knowledge or God's truthfulness. We're saying either God doesn't know correctly or that He is deceiving us in His Word. It is an attack on the very nature and character of God, and as such it is sin.

If that is the case, then why do we do it? I think there are two main reasons I observe in myself and others: either we don't understand it, or we don't like it. Take God's sovereignty over salvation (a.k.a. predestination, unconditional election) for instance, the example I used in the first post. Let's say you've heard about it and doubted it at first (which is fine), but after examining the scriptures you've concluded the Bible teaches the doctrine of predestination.

Now you still have to decide whether you yourself will believe it or not. At this point originally I responded by saying "well I don't see how this doctrine coud be true, and evangelism still matter, man still be free, God still be good, etc. Therefore I won't accept it." That is a sinful response. It is saying "I don't understand, therefore I don't believe." It is trusting in myself and leaning on my own understanding as the ultimate standard of truth rather than God and His Word (cf. Proverbs 3:5-6). What's particularly sad about this kind of doubt is that in many Christian circles it is condoned and encouraged. "Good, doubt it, God can handle your doubts, He's a big boy." "Question everything." Certainly it's true that God is not shaken by your doubts, but it is also true that your doubt in this area is sinful and needs to be repented of. God's Word is never to be doubted or called into question.

The second reason I mentioned was we simply don't like what God's Word says. Most people won't come out and say "I choose not to believe this because I don't like it," but I would argue many of us operate in this realm. When studying the charismatic gifts of the Spirit I would often doubt their validity simply because I thought speaking in tongues was weird, not because God said it had ceased. This doubt is obviously sinful and needs to be likewise repented of.

Now, let me make myself clear: I am not saying we should not talk about such doubts. I am not saying we need to pretend we believe perfectly when in fact we don't. This is just compounding sin. First we sin by doubting the truthfulness of God's Word, then we sin by hiding and lying about it. We should seek to create a gracious community where we can confess this sin to one another (Jas. 5:16), but still call it sin and encourage one another in repentance, not acceptance or encouragement of this sin (cf. Rom. 1:32).

God's Word is perfect because Godknows all and never lies (Num. 23:19, Titus 1:2). Once we know what it says, our only legitimate response is faithful acceptance of its content. But the reality is we may still not understand it or like it. While these are not valid reasons to reject it, they still need to be discussed. I hope to do so in a future post.

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