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.