Questions, Doubts, and Faith: A Closer Look
by Eric Chabot
Whenever I teach an apologetics class, I always clarify the relationship between faith, doubts, and questions. I think one way to explain this issue is to use a real life illustration. Many of us remember the popular novel The Davinci Code which was made into a very successful movie. Dan Brown, who is the author of the book was interviewed about his religious background. You can read the interview (see here),
The response that Brown got is a common occurrence. I have seen the fallout of this problem. It is important to remember that asking questions about what you believe is not necessarily the same thing as doubt. For example, when I was a new Christian I had all kinds of questions. I didn’t know much about the Bible or theology, etc. I still have plenty of questions to this day. Asking questions is a part of spiritual growth.
Questions and Doubt
Let’s look at a more technical definition of doubt. Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary says the following about doubt:
“It is possible to have questions (or doubts) about persons, propositions, or objects. Doubt has been deemed a valuable element in honest, rational inquiry. It prevents us from reaching hasty conclusions or making commitments to unreliable and untrustworthy sources. A suspension of judgment until sufficient inquiry is made and adequate evidence is presented is judged to be admirable. In this light, doubt is not an enemy of faith. This seems to be the attitude of the Bereans in Acts 17:11.
Questioning or doubting motivates us to search further and deeper in an understanding of faith. However, doubt in Scripture can be seen to be characteristic of both believers and unbelievers. In believers it is usually a weakness of faith, a wavering in the face of God’s promises. In the unbeliever doubt is virtually synonymous with unbelief. Scripture, as would be expected, does not look at doubt philosophically or epistemologically. Doubt is viewed practically and spiritually as it relates to our trust in the Lord. For this reason, doubt is not deemed as valuable or commendable.”
Doubts can come in several forms such as emotional, psychological, or factual doubt. Anyway, think if Brown’s minister had practiced what Peter wrote in 1 Pet. 3:15: “But in your hearts acknowledge Messiah as the holy Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to every one who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have yet with gentleness and respect.” In the context of this verse, the apostle Peter is writing to a group of persecuted Christians.The Greek word for “reason” in this passage is “logos,” which is defined as “a word, inward thought itself, a reckoning, or a regard.” Peter does not suggest we be prepared to do give a reason for the hope that is within us, but he commands that we do it…
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