Doubt: Advice for the Perplexed
by Saints & Sceptics
1) Faith is essential to the Christian life. Unfortunately, many Christians also believe that doubt is the antithesis of faith. Therefore, unnecessary anxiety is experienced by many perplexed or puzzled Christians; young believers are scolded or rebuffed for having critical questions. Many problems are generated by a deficient view of faith which defines it a blind, unthinking trust generated by an act of pure will. On this view, the slightest doubt on our part indicates a failure of the will; we just need to believe harder if we are to please Jesus.
In fact, Jesus never demanded this kind of faith. When Jesus rebuked his disciples for their lack of faith was he essentially saying, “Even though you have good reason to be sceptical, you should just believe in me blindly”? Hardly! A common theme in the Gospels is that disciples are very slow to grasp who Jesus really is despite all the evidence available to them. Consider the story of doubting Thomas in John 20. Thomas is absent when the risen Jesus appears to his disciples. Not only had Thomas plenty of evidence for who Jesus was, but he also had the evidence of the empty tomb and eyewitness testimony of Jesus’ resurrection from many disciples. We miss the point of this passage if we forget that Thomas’ scepticism is unreasonable!
2) “Faith” simply means “trust”: a personal commitment to a person, institution or set of ideas. Faith goes beyond mere belief that some statement is true; it implies that we are willing to act on the basis of our belief; that we are prepared invest something in that object, person or institution. Christianity demands total trust Christ to reconcile us to God. In other words, we must invest every aspect of our life: we must be practically, emotionally, even existentially invested in him…
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