While doubt is something that many of us go through from time to time.  It can be in a time of spiritual dryness, it can come in the midst of trying circumstances.  It can seem overwhelming, sometimes the only prayer we can mutter at those times is, “help me overcome my unbelief,” (Mark 9:24).  Jesus didn’t condemn Thomas when he doubted, but even though he gave Thomas the proof he was looking for he said to him, “Do not disbelieve, but believe,” (John 20:27) and then after Thomas believed said about future believers, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed,” (John 20:29).

The point is that we are never meant to stay there.

Doubt is often treated as a type of virtue among emerging church leaders, or rather it is framed as a type of humility or modesty – “who are we to know for certain.”  It is often centered about absolute truth and assurance regarding Christian orthodoxy. 

G.K. Chesterton in 1959 work, Orthodoxy said what we suffer from “is humility in the wrong place.  Modesty has moved from the organ of ambition… (and) settled upon the organ of conviction, where it was never meant to be.  A man was meant to be doubtful about himself, but undoubting about the truth; this has been exactly reversed.  We are on the road to producing a race of men too mentally modest to believe in the multiplication table.”

I would submit to you that as it comes to how our culture, and postmoderns in particular, views truth we’ve already advised.  J.P. Moreland warns in his recent work, Kingdom Triangle, that with this direction that postmodernism culture and the emerging church is taking that it will also encounter, “all the attendant land mines and booby traps that undermine the possibility of a powerful, confident, knowledgeable, vibrant Christian community.”

Perhaps they need to take the blunt advice of the late British pastor, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, who said, “Come to the Word of God.  Stop asking questions.  Start with the promises in their right order.  Say: ‘I want the truth whatever it costs me.’  Bind yourself to it, submit yourself to it, come in utter submission as a little child and plead with Him to give you a clear sign, perfect vision, and to make you whole… We are not meant to be left in a state of doubt and misgiving, of uncertainty and unhappiness,” (source: Spiritual Depression).

26 comments
  1. What I find ironically amusing is their alternate set of absolutes: “The only thing we can know for sure about God is that we can’t know anything for sure about God.”

    While that obvious absurdity is doomed to eventually crumble under its own weight, I fear that many will be harmed to their great loss in the meantime.

    I have four children. While they cannot know me in an infallible and utterly complete sense, they certainly can know me. Part of the reason is because they are cut from the same cloth as I am, and part of the reason is because I reveal myself to them through our interactions. I beleive it is much the same with God. We will never wrap our minds around the Infinite, but God is immanent as well as transcendent and is fully capable of revealing Himself.

    Another irony is the Emergent rejection of human constructs as they relate to God, yet you will hear them say things amounting to “God cannot reveal himself through the limited vehicle of human language”, thus putting God in the very box they so abhor.

    I would like to think that God can do whatever He pleases!

    Steves last blog post..Voter Illiteracy and the Media

  2. What I find ironically amusing is their alternate set of absolutes: “The only thing we can know for sure about God is that we can’t know anything for sure about God.”

    While that obvious absurdity is doomed to eventually crumble under its own weight, I fear that many will be harmed to their great loss in the meantime.

    I have four children. While they cannot know me in an infallible and utterly complete sense, they certainly can know me. Part of the reason is because they are cut from the same cloth as I am, and part of the reason is because I reveal myself to them through our interactions. I beleive it is much the same with God. We will never wrap our minds around the Infinite, but God is immanent as well as transcendent and is fully capable of revealing Himself.

    Another irony is the Emergent rejection of human constructs as they relate to God, yet you will hear them say things amounting to “God cannot reveal himself through the limited vehicle of human language”, thus putting God in the very box they so abhor.

    I would like to think that God can do whatever He pleases!

    Steves last blog post..Voter Illiteracy and the Media

  3. What I find ironically amusing is their alternate set of absolutes: “The only thing we can know for sure about God is that we can’t know anything for sure about God.”

    While that obvious absurdity is doomed to eventually crumble under its own weight, I fear that many will be harmed to their great loss in the meantime.

    I have four children. While they cannot know me in an infallible and utterly complete sense, they certainly can know me. Part of the reason is because they are cut from the same cloth as I am, and part of the reason is because I reveal myself to them through our interactions. I beleive it is much the same with God. We will never wrap our minds around the Infinite, but God is immanent as well as transcendent and is fully capable of revealing Himself.

    Another irony is the Emergent rejection of human constructs as they relate to God, yet you will hear them say things amounting to “God cannot reveal himself through the limited vehicle of human language”, thus putting God in the very box they so abhor.

    I would like to think that God can do whatever He pleases!

    Steves last blog post..Voter Illiteracy and the Media

  4. I like what Steve says about absolutes.. like saying that doubt can never be a virtue 🙂

    Seriously, I think I get what you are saying Shane but what if you substitute “struggle” for doubt? Often struggle is essential in the formation of our faith.. no pain no gain?

    I ‘d write more but I can’t think of any more cliches and it is getting late.

    Kansas Bobs last blog post..Worst Film and TV Turkeys of the Year

  5. I like what Steve says about absolutes.. like saying that doubt can never be a virtue 🙂

    Seriously, I think I get what you are saying Shane but what if you substitute “struggle” for doubt? Often struggle is essential in the formation of our faith.. no pain no gain?

    I ‘d write more but I can’t think of any more cliches and it is getting late.

    Kansas Bobs last blog post..Worst Film and TV Turkeys of the Year

  6. I like what Steve says about absolutes.. like saying that doubt can never be a virtue 🙂

    Seriously, I think I get what you are saying Shane but what if you substitute “struggle” for doubt? Often struggle is essential in the formation of our faith.. no pain no gain?

    I ‘d write more but I can’t think of any more cliches and it is getting late.

    Kansas Bobs last blog post..Worst Film and TV Turkeys of the Year

  7. I would agree that struggle is part of deep thinking and even of spiritual formation. I don’t think it’s the same thing as doubt.

    It’s more like, “God I don’t understand this!” Jacob wrestled with God, after all, and in the end he was blessed.

    Maybe you aren’t equating them, Bob…?

    I also think that the opposite of doubt is a huge component of spiritual formation. By that I mean trust. Taking God at His word and standing on the things we can be certain of and obeying God’s clear commands is a direct means to seeing Jesus revealed (John 14:21).

    Steves last blog post..Voter Illiteracy and the Media

  8. I would agree that struggle is part of deep thinking and even of spiritual formation. I don’t think it’s the same thing as doubt.

    It’s more like, “God I don’t understand this!” Jacob wrestled with God, after all, and in the end he was blessed.

    Maybe you aren’t equating them, Bob…?

    I also think that the opposite of doubt is a huge component of spiritual formation. By that I mean trust. Taking God at His word and standing on the things we can be certain of and obeying God’s clear commands is a direct means to seeing Jesus revealed (John 14:21).

    Steves last blog post..Voter Illiteracy and the Media

  9. I would agree that struggle is part of deep thinking and even of spiritual formation. I don’t think it’s the same thing as doubt.

    It’s more like, “God I don’t understand this!” Jacob wrestled with God, after all, and in the end he was blessed.

    Maybe you aren’t equating them, Bob…?

    I also think that the opposite of doubt is a huge component of spiritual formation. By that I mean trust. Taking God at His word and standing on the things we can be certain of and obeying God’s clear commands is a direct means to seeing Jesus revealed (John 14:21).

    Steves last blog post..Voter Illiteracy and the Media

  10. When commenting about Mother Teresa, Cal Thomas said this in his Newsweek/Washington Post piece titled “Doubt is Not Disbelief”:

    There is a hymn many Christians sing which includes the plea that God would “drive the dark of doubt away.” We live in a fallen world with many temptations and distractions. We witness poverty, war, death and other horrors. We “see through a glass darkly,” as Paul writes. We are constantly bombarded with “evidence” that God does not exist.

    And yet as we focus on Jesus, it is He who drives the dark of doubt away…by his life, death and resurrection and by His assurance that He goes to prepare a place for us that where He is, we may be also. It is by looking beyond our circumstances in a fallen world and beyond doubt that we find hope and faith. Perhaps Mother Teresa’s doubt lasted longer than most, but doubt is not the same as disbelief and in her actions as well as her words, she exhibited more faith than any doubter — or non-doubter — I have known.

    http://tinyurl.com/6n7zhx

    Kansas Bobs last blog post..Gumpisms

  11. When commenting about Mother Teresa, Cal Thomas said this in his Newsweek/Washington Post piece titled “Doubt is Not Disbelief”:

    There is a hymn many Christians sing which includes the plea that God would “drive the dark of doubt away.” We live in a fallen world with many temptations and distractions. We witness poverty, war, death and other horrors. We “see through a glass darkly,” as Paul writes. We are constantly bombarded with “evidence” that God does not exist.

    And yet as we focus on Jesus, it is He who drives the dark of doubt away…by his life, death and resurrection and by His assurance that He goes to prepare a place for us that where He is, we may be also. It is by looking beyond our circumstances in a fallen world and beyond doubt that we find hope and faith. Perhaps Mother Teresa’s doubt lasted longer than most, but doubt is not the same as disbelief and in her actions as well as her words, she exhibited more faith than any doubter — or non-doubter — I have known.

    http://tinyurl.com/6n7zhx

    Kansas Bobs last blog post..Gumpisms

  12. When commenting about Mother Teresa, Cal Thomas said this in his Newsweek/Washington Post piece titled “Doubt is Not Disbelief”:

    There is a hymn many Christians sing which includes the plea that God would “drive the dark of doubt away.” We live in a fallen world with many temptations and distractions. We witness poverty, war, death and other horrors. We “see through a glass darkly,” as Paul writes. We are constantly bombarded with “evidence” that God does not exist.

    And yet as we focus on Jesus, it is He who drives the dark of doubt away…by his life, death and resurrection and by His assurance that He goes to prepare a place for us that where He is, we may be also. It is by looking beyond our circumstances in a fallen world and beyond doubt that we find hope and faith. Perhaps Mother Teresa’s doubt lasted longer than most, but doubt is not the same as disbelief and in her actions as well as her words, she exhibited more faith than any doubter — or non-doubter — I have known.

    http://tinyurl.com/6n7zhx

    Kansas Bobs last blog post..Gumpisms

  13. I think the difference between the doubts that Mother Theresa faced and many of the emerging church leadership is that she wrote of her doubts in her diary, not do podcasts, blog posts and writes books on it.

    I’m not saying people don’t doubt or that we should never doubt. I said that in the post. My point is that isn’t where we are supposed to remain. There comes a point in time where we have to say – “I don’t fully understand, but I believe that God is good (or whatever their doubt is about) and I am going to trust Him, not my experience or my feelings.”

    Far too many Christians faith is based on experience and/or feelings… shifting sand.

  14. I think the difference between the doubts that Mother Theresa faced and many of the emerging church leadership is that she wrote of her doubts in her diary, not do podcasts, blog posts and writes books on it.

    I’m not saying people don’t doubt or that we should never doubt. I said that in the post. My point is that isn’t where we are supposed to remain. There comes a point in time where we have to say – “I don’t fully understand, but I believe that God is good (or whatever their doubt is about) and I am going to trust Him, not my experience or my feelings.”

    Far too many Christians faith is based on experience and/or feelings… shifting sand.

  15. I think the difference between the doubts that Mother Theresa faced and many of the emerging church leadership is that she wrote of her doubts in her diary, not do podcasts, blog posts and writes books on it.

    I’m not saying people don’t doubt or that we should never doubt. I said that in the post. My point is that isn’t where we are supposed to remain. There comes a point in time where we have to say – “I don’t fully understand, but I believe that God is good (or whatever their doubt is about) and I am going to trust Him, not my experience or my feelings.”

    Far too many Christians faith is based on experience and/or feelings… shifting sand.

  16. To have doubts because you struggle with your finite understanding of an infinite God sounds healthy to me.

    Doubt, pridefully worn as a badge of honor sound like you are developing an idol to worship: your doubtful journey seeking a God to understand on your terms.

    Or maybe I just haven’t had enough coffee yet this morning.

    AndyCs last blog post..A Bacon Driven Life

  17. To have doubts because you struggle with your finite understanding of an infinite God sounds healthy to me.

    Doubt, pridefully worn as a badge of honor sound like you are developing an idol to worship: your doubtful journey seeking a God to understand on your terms.

    Or maybe I just haven’t had enough coffee yet this morning.

    AndyCs last blog post..A Bacon Driven Life

  18. To have doubts because you struggle with your finite understanding of an infinite God sounds healthy to me.

    Doubt, pridefully worn as a badge of honor sound like you are developing an idol to worship: your doubtful journey seeking a God to understand on your terms.

    Or maybe I just haven’t had enough coffee yet this morning.

    AndyCs last blog post..A Bacon Driven Life

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