Gospel Centred Apologetics: What’s the Point? (Part 2)
by Graham Veale
A popular evangelical Urban Myth – popularised by theologians and preachers who should know better – is that “doubt” is a state half-way between belief and unbelief. On this view “doubt” sounds little different from agnosticism, and this leaves many Christians feeling an unnecessary dread . It seems that once you start asking yourself questions like, ‘How do I really know there is a God?’ you are on the path to unbelief. Of course, this is absolute nonsense, as a few minutes reflection demonstrates.
Let’s take a simple example that illustrates how doubt and belief are compatible. Consider a student sitting an important exam. She passionately wants a good grade, has studied hard, and gives what she believes to be the correct answer to every question. Once she has answered the paper it is sent away for marking; and, typically, this is when most students experience doubt. She has written what she believed to be correct; but what if her beliefs were not true?
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The more the student wants to pass her exam, the greater her anxiety.The passion of her belief is not at issue; the examiner is only interested in the truth, and will grade accordingly. So the student, who paid most attention to the questions, who read over each several times, and who gave what she earnestly believed to be true answers, is much more likely to experience doubt than, say, her boyfriend who took a casual approach to the exam. It doesn’t matter to him if his beliefs were true or false.
Similarly, the Christian’s doubt is not evidence of a lack of belief. Doubt is simply evidence that the Christian would like some assurance that his beliefs are true. In fact, the Christian with passionate faith is more likely to experience doubt than the tepid believer, who does not really grasp the monumental importance of Christianity…
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