Eight Diagnostic Questions I Ask of those Who Are Doubting their Faith

by C Michael Patton

1. What are you doubting? There are three primary things people doubt: 1) Their salvation, 2) God’s love for them, 3) fundamental issues of the faith. Included with the doubt of salvation is a sub-category: belief that they have committed the unforgivable sin. Which one do you find yourself doubting?

2. If it is a fundamental issue of the faith that you are doubting, which one is it? The reliability of Scripture? The reality of Hell? The exclusivity of Christ? The existence of God? Etc.

(This is important as, more often than not, people are having an emotional struggle, not an intellectual one, even if they don’t identify it as such. For example, ninety-nine percent of the time, people doubt hell and Christ’s exclusivity not because they have found some compelling logical argument against it, but because it does not square with them emotionally. This does not speak to the legitimacy of the doubt, but to the source of its genesis.)

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3. Tell me about this aspect of your personality: Would you describe yourself as an intense person who tends toward compulsiveness or a laid back person with a lot of patience? Here is another way, though at first glance it may appear to be odd, to put this [and this will be more relevant to some of us who remember the commercials]: “How many licks does it take for you to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop?” If you are old enough, you remember the commercial with the owl. The owl took two licks and then could not contain himself. He then bit straight into the middle. So it took him three. He was intense! If you have to bite into the pop, you might be an intense person.

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