When we are seeking to understand something as big as God, it’s normal to have doubts along the way. We don’t typically have much choice in whether we struggle with some doubts in this process, but we do make choices in how to deal with the doubt. My claim is that doubt, when handled properly, leads to truth. Even if it turns out that we change our beliefs, we have presumably come to a more rational place as a result of the doubts. But if Christianity is true, as we lean in and find answers to our questions we grow in our knowledge and come to a place of even greater faith. Let’s talk about how to handle doubt properly.
Being Beat Up by Doubt
When you doubt your faith, you often feel like you’ve been beat up. It’s not usually fun to feel like one of your beliefs might be false, especially when it’s one of your cherished beliefs. This can be a lonely place. Sometimes it feels like you have stumbled on something people either have never seen or are just ignoring. You wonder why no one else is talking about the issue you’ve found. What adds to the isolation is you might be brave enough to share your doubts with another Christian only to have that person dismiss your doubts as insignificant. Too often when it comes to doubting, pastors and well-meaning Christians are telling people to, in effect, knock it off, as if doubting is nothing more than a bad choice we are making.
Here’s a ticking time bomb: you have some questions, and these questions are causing you to doubt, but you can’t find a safe place to address those doubts. If you’ve also been told by your pastor or a parent that faith requires absolute certainty and anything short of that is sin, you will find yourself in what may feel like a hopeless struggle. Since no one is willing to take the time and effort to provide answers to your questions, it can feel like there are no answers.
The great shame is this couldn’t be further from the truth.
When it comes to questioning Christianity, there’s nothing new under the sun. We stand in a long tradition of Christians asking deep and difficult questions and pressing Christianity for its truth. Consequently, virtually every question we may have has been asked in one form or fashion at some point. It might feel like you’ve discovered something brand new. But chances are excellent that it’s been at least thoughtfully addressed by someone at some point.
This is not to make light of the questions you have. I, in fact, want you to take your questions very seriously. But just don’t let them have their way with you. And don’t give in to the feelings of isolation. You are not alone. There are a lot of us out there. Chances are others have wrestled with the very same questions you have, and you should have a careful look at what they say.
Travis Dickinson (PhD, University of Iowa) is professor of philosophy at Dallas Baptist University. He has taught courses in philosophy and Christian apologetics for over twenty years and has done apologetics and evangelism in more than thirty-five countries. His latest book is entitled Wandering Toward God (10/2022).