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by Marilyn Stewart
We can move through doubt to a greater, richer, more compelling, more existentially satisfying faith. — Douglas Groothuis
Doubt is a problem Christians tend to hide. But are honest, soul-searching questions really something to be afraid of?
Douglas Groothuis, professor of philosophy and director of the Apologetics and Ethics MA program, Denver Seminary, said at the opening plenary of the 2015 Defend the Faith conference, Jan. 4-9, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, that doubt can lead to a more vibrant faith.
“We can move through doubt to a greater, richer, more compelling, more existentially satisfying faith,” Groothuis said. A committed, rational faith is the ideal state, but doubt, if addressed properly, can be the medium for further growth, Groothuis said.
“Doubt can be an agitation for further growth, deeper knowledge, and greater conviction,” Groothuis said. “We shouldn’t waste our doubts and we shouldn’t condemn those who are questioning and wondering.”
Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Inc., came to his pastor as a young teen troubled by deep suffering in the world, Groothuis said. Because the pastor refused to acknowledge the question, Jobs walked away from his Christian upbringing.
Christians who experience doubt should not be burdened further by placing more guilt and shame on them, Groothuis said. Groothuis compared it to a donkey bearing a heavy burden that falters on an uphill climb. Beating the donkey only makes it worse.For those feeling doubt, “We need to lighten the load.”
Drawing from Matthew 11:1-11, Groothuis pointed to John the Baptist, a “credentialed” follower of Jesus who experienced a moment of doubt.
Groothuis reminded the audience of John’s “credentials” as a committed believer: his ministry was foretold in prophecy and revealed to his parents; he was a prophet and oracle of God; twice, he identified publicly Jesus as the Messiah; he was courageous and stood up to Herod Antipas.Yet, John the Baptist struggled with doubt, Groothuis said.
Jesus employed an apologetic technique in responding, Groothuis said.
When Jesus told John’s disciples to report back six types of miracles being performed (the blind see, the lame walk… the dead are raised), he was citing evidence for his Messianic identity by showing that prophecy had been fulfilled…
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