Wednesday, July 14, 2010

How Should We Think of Doubt?

Doubt is a real experience in the life of any honest Christian. However, I think it can be hard to know how we should think about our doubt. Is it good or bad? Necessary or sinful? What do we do about it? Should we embrace it or repent of it? Should we talk to God/others about it or hide it? Should we question God or just submit? Doubt has played a major part in my Christian life, so I'd like to add some clarity to this topic from the Scriptures and my experience.

I think we can group doubt for the Christian into three broad categories: 1.) doubts about what God's Word says, 2.) doubts about whether what God's Word says is true, and 3.) doubts about how what God's Word says can be true.

1. Doubts about what God's Word says - This is an ok kind of doubt. Someone like me comes to you and says "God is in control of everything, even individual salvation." You say: "I'm not sure about that" That's ok. You shouldn't just take my word or anyone else's on things. An example of this is the Bereans. The Bible says this of them:

"Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so" - Acts 17:11

They are called noble because they received the word with eagerness and examined the scriptures daily to evalute whether what they were hearing is true. Notice here what they do with their uncertainties: they test them against the inerrant words of scripture. This is what we need to do with any truth claim. We examine the scriptures to see if its true. Until we have decided what God's Word says about the truth claim, we can say we "doubt" its truth, and in fact we should. But once we see what God's Word says about the claim, either affirming or falsifying it, that should settle the matter. That brings us to a second type of doubt, which I'll take up in Part 2.

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