3 Things to Remember in Discussion with Doubters
by Trevin Wax
One of the most enjoyable teaching opportunities I had last year was walking through Clear Winter Nights with a group from my church. We met on Sunday nights and talked through the Conversation Guide at the end of the book. (You can access the PDF of the Guide here for free.)
Three aspects of the discussion stand out, and they are applicable to any group that wants to discuss the big issues related to our faith and practice.
1. Saying your church is a safe place for doubters doesn’t make it so.
During the first couple of weeks, our group focused primarily on our past experiences of faith and doubt. I wanted everyone in the group to put themselves in the shoes of Chris Walker, the college student who is dealing with disillusionment and asking big questions related to Christianity.
Almost everyone has entertained doubts of some sort, but our churches are not always a safe place for expressing them. Many Christians feel guilty for ever questioning the authority of their church’s teaching or the reliability of God’s Word or the cohesiveness of Christian theology. The list goes on.
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We all say we want the church to be a safe place for people to be honest and open about their struggles, but too often, we paper over our problems and satisfy ourselves with individual Bible verses, while never dealing with substantive questions. This facade gets tiresome, of course, and it is the reason some people just drift away.
2. Doubting is never just intellectual.
The interesting aspect about discussing Clear Winter Nights (“theology in story”) was the focus on the characters’ stories, not just their intellectual hang-ups. We tend to treat people who doubt as if their issues are primarily intellectual. If we can just give the right answers, everything will be fine…