5.31.2013

Faith and Doubt

In conversations with students, I've been faced with the relationship between faith and doubt.  Somehow, somewhere, students seem to believe that faith and doubt cannot coexist; that the existence of doubt is the negation of faith.  Where do they get this notion?

This has caused me to wonder just how many young people, or anyone for that matter, have left faith because they were discouraged by doubt.  How many have we lost who believe faith and doubt were at odds?  Isn't it more true to suggest that doubt drives us to deeper faith; that is, when we are able to truly wrestle with and deal honestly with our doubts, we are able to arrive at a deeper, more robust faith?

In Rob Bell's most recent book, What We Talk About When We Talk About God, this quote grabbed my attention:
"For many people in our world, the opposite of faith is doubt. The goal, then, within this understanding, is to eliminate doubt. But faith and doubt aren’t opposites. Doubt is often a sign that your faith has a pulse, that it’s alive and well and exploring and searching. Faith and doubt aren’t opposites; they are, it turns out, excellent dance partners."

Doubt is a sign your faith has a pulse.
Doubt and Faith are excellent dance partners.

I find myself agreeing with these notions.  I think this will be helpful for students with whom I work.  I am reminded of the man who said to Jesus, "I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief."  Unbelief, doubt, uncertainty - this is where Jesus steps in and moves us, shapes us, changes our hearts and beliefs, our attitudes and understandings.

So why are we so uncomfortable with doubt?  Why does it seem so scary?

4 comments:

Pastoreid said...

I think one of the problems is that students & adults who doubt... leave it there. Like, "If I can doubt away something of faith, then I've un-solved it, and left holes in the theology... and concluded that it's not worth having faith about it."

“We live in a culture that has, for centuries now, cultivated the idea that the skeptical person is always smarter than one who believes. You can almost be as stupid as a cabbage as long as you doubt.” ― Dallas Willard, Hearing God: Developing a Conversational Relationship with God

pastoreid.com said...

I think one of the problems is that students & adults who doubt... leave it there. Like, "If I can doubt away something of faith, then I've un-solved it, and left holes in the theology... and concluded that it's not worth having faith about it."

“We live in a culture that has, for centuries now, cultivated the idea that the skeptical person is always smarter than one who believes. You can almost be as stupid as a cabbage as long as you doubt.”
― Dallas Willard, Hearing God: Developing a Conversational Relationship with God

Anonymous said...

Thanks for writing about this. I truly believe that faith cannot exist without doubt, if it were not for doubt wouldn't we can it "fact." I wish that Christians would speak more openly about the relationship between their doubts and their faith. Maybe then Christianity would be less intimidating.

Anna Compton

Steve Martin said...

If we don't have any doubt, then we don't need faith. Knowing, for sure...requires no faith at all.

And isn't that what the Lord is after in us?

Thanks.