Q & A with William Lane Craig - Dealing with Doubt
What is your best advice for overcoming "what if" doubts? I find that this is my biggest struggle. I find a compelling argument, and then I ask, "but what if..." This constantly starts me over at square one. I know that this is partially due to my fear of giving into Christianity and then being wrong. It isn't about pride; I would just be devastated. I've experienced that before when my faith has been shaken. No one will ever reach a conclusion if they continue to ask "what if." I know this. So how do I overcome it. It would seem so simple to some. Simply stop asking "what if." But those who have experienced a gripping fear know that it is harder than it seems. So for those of us who suffer from the "what if" syndrome--what do we do next?
Dr. Craig responds:
Occasionally I like to invite a guest scholar to respond to a question on which he has worked. Michael Licona recently spoke to my Defenders class on the subject of Doubt, and so, Amanda, I asked Mike to tackle your question. I think you'll find that you and he are a lot alike! His response to your question follows:
I can certainly sympathize with this doubter! One of my idiosyncrasies is that I'm a perpetual second-guesser. I seem to question just about everything. I don't want to make a bad decision, even in some very insignificant matters. So, it just makes sense that I often have doubts pertaining to decisions in significant matters. It's not an intentional exercise. In fact, it's downright frustrating to me. But it's the way I'm wired.
As a result, I've doubted my Christian faith many times; sometimes to the point of almost walking away from it. I've asked myself, "Have I been brain-washed? Am I unable to think objectively because I was brought up to believe? What if I'm wrong?" I have the peace Paul describes as being the inward confirmation of God's Spirit that I belong to Christ (Romans 8:16). But Mormons also claim to have a confirming peace from God, as do followers of some other religions. Certainly, we all couldn't be right, since many religions contradict themselves. So, how can I know whether my peace is really from God? That's a tough question. And to be honest, I still don't know the answer to that one.
Thankfully, when I began experiencing doubts in the 1980s, a philosophy professor understood where I was because he had likewise struggled with doubts. I didn't have Gary Habermas for a class at Liberty University, since he taught in the philosophy department, while my graduate work there was in the field of New Testament Studies. But Habermas helped me tremendously in understanding doubt and how to deal with it. In what follows, I combine some of Habermas' thoughts with my own. I have good news for those of you who struggle with doubt: You can successfully deal with doubting by taking four key actions…
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