Doubt is Good For the Soul
The first time I showed Religulous to our youth leaders, some confessed that they felt guilty for laughing. Being a product of sacrilege, I didn’t think too much of it. I was more concerned about the doubt that would be created and reinforced – which was part of the reason I was showing the movie. Everyone I know doubts. Not just Christians – I mean everyone I know doubts something that they were at one point certain about.
It’s my opinion that we don’t doubt enough! If we did, I think many of us would have a stronger faith. For many the first time they truly examine their doubts is in the proverbial ancient literature class where they discover the idea of “Genre”. The Bible is a narrative with various genres – Historical, Law, Poetic, Apocalyptic,
I think a solid youth ministry discusses that first. For Bible-believing Christians, we don’t teach our students enough Bible. There are various reasons for that which I can’t get into here but we don’t teach enough Bible. Even more importantly, as Bible-believing Christians, we don’t teach our students enough the importance of walking in the Spirit. When we explore our doubts as we are seeking the Holy Spirit, a lot of beauty, truth, and the presence of God is found.
“Umm, God, Do You Really Exist. Can I ask that without getting smited?”
God is not afraid of our questions. I used to think He was. I used to think that my submitting any question in the direction of God would grieve God and I’d either get cursed with a broken television or worse get called into pastoring at a King James Version only church (I can the blog reader say it right now, “If the King James was good enough for St. Paul – it’s good enough for me!”.
Doubt is Two-Edged Sword
All that said, doubt is a two-edged sword. People give up the Christian faith for various reasons, but among them is because of a giving into their doubts. Bill Maher would say something like, “No, they grew up out of these idiot fantasies about space gods and virgins and started thinking for themselves!” But whenever I think of some of his statements, the CK Chesterton line comes to mind, “When people stop believing in God, they don’t believe in nothing — they believe in anything.”
The Line Between Great Doubt and Great Faith is Very Thin
I used to also think that the less you doubted the more your faith grew. Though I’m not a good linear thinker, if you could picture a line and on the far left, it was labeled, “Great Doubt” and the far right “Great Faith”, i would have assumed that they were polar opposites from each other. But I think it’s a pretty thin line. It’s when we believe in spite of the doubt, in spite of the pain, that our faith is growing.
I see Matthew 7:7-8 as a promise to the seeker of faith (“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened”) and reminded our students as I have been reminded many times, great people of faith doubted before they obeyed – Abraham, Moses, Jeremiah, Thomas and you could even make the case that Jesus was tempted to fall into doubt. When He’s prays in the garden for the cup to pass over him, that is not just poetry. Luke 22 describes that he prayed so earnestly that drops of blood fell to the ground. Wether this is figurative language or the A rare physiological phenomenon “hematohidrosi“, he was certainly stressed. I dislike the idea that Jesus skipped his way to His crucifixion and gave a “thumbs up” before being nailed to the cross. In fact, it’s this Jesus in Gesthemane that encourages my faith. Indeed, Jesus knows what it’s like to at least be tempted to doubt … and to believe.
I’m not sure where I found this now but have loved it:
The Skeptic’s Prayer
sometimes I’m not altogether sure what I believe or why I believe it. But I do want to know you. I want to find you. I thank you that you’re walking with me on this journey, even though it often doesn’t feel like it. I invite you to plan an even bigger role. Guide me, lead me, help me, God. I want to rest in you. I want to work with you. I want to believe in you.