Doubt Is No Cul-De-Sac

Do we allow people permission to doubt?  Doubt is natural.  But many Christians seem to fear it.  It’s as if doubting might open the door to serious enquiry that might undermine their faith.  So doubt is rejected as somehow unchristian.  I had a good conversation with my seven-year-old who expressed that sometimes she doubts her faith.  I asked what she felt she should do when she doubts.  “Stop doubting” seemed the right thing to say, but wrong.  I encouraged her to engage with any doubts that come.  If Christianity is true, if the Bible is true, then it can stand the test of some tough questions.  Good questions won’t harm truth.

Many Christians feel guilty for doubting.  They feel that they should immediately cut it out and get back on track.  Metaphorically the doubt is seen as a dead end road that should be reversed out of as quickly as possible.  I would encourage people to engage the doubt, to study the truth, to follow through.  Doubt is a pathway to a tested and evidentially undergirded faith.

As we preach we regularly have opportunities to address doubts.  Doubts about God, about the Bible, about suffering, about faith, about the future, about all aspects of Christianity.  Let’s be sure to not reinforce the typical response – to hit reverse and get out quickly.  Instead let’s encourage an informed, researched, understood Christianity.  Let’s encourage people to prayerfully wrestle with the Word.  Let’s model in our preaching a healthy response to doubts.

Don’t pretend doubt is not a reality for many believers, even if you don’t struggle.  Certainly don’t hide personal struggles as if you would lose all credibility if you were found out to be a real person!  Instead seize the moment to model healthy response to doubt and provide the quality of information people need for the struggles they face.

Don’t Preach Lazy Apologetics

Yesterday I attended a day conference about the resurrection held in Westminster Chapel.  NT Wright and Gary Habermas were the speakers, along with a brief session with Antony Flew.  He is the British philosopher who caused a real stir a few years ago by giving up his atheistic position to state that the evidence had convinced him of the existence of God.  His position is essentially deist, but he was asked what it would take for him to accept the deity of Jesus.  “Well, I suppose it would take something on the magnitude of what you’re talking about today, an otherwise impossible thing like a resurrection from the dead.”  When asked the same question about the Holy Spirit, his response was the same – “If the resurrection is true then everything else would come with it.”

Here is a non-Christian thinking more clearly about Christianity than many Christians.  How easy it is for us to slip into a very lazy apologetic, either directly or in testimony.  It goes along the lines of, “Obviously I can’t prove my faith, it’s like a leap in the dark really, but you just believe and then you know it is true.”

This easter season, let’s be sure to clearly communicate that the Christian faith is founded very firmly on historical fact.  The biblical record carries an unparalleled historicity.  If Jesus rose from the dead, then the implications are massive, but if he didn’t really rise, then let’s give up and do something else with our lives.  As preachers we are in the prime position to communicate the facts of easter and that the Christian message is not an invitation to take a leap into the dark.  As preachers we may also need to sensitively follow up on a testimony given by someone else that both affirms them, but also clarifies that actually Christianity is based and built on fact.