last Sat. one of my former teachers, Gary Habermas, gave a talk on doubt… here are some thoughts I brought from it….
“it has been said that doubt is half way between belief and unbelief” (perhaps it is the opposite of hope)
“doubt may be the most common issue present among Christians”
“(apologetic type) evidence is great, but it is not the biggest answer” (because it does little for emotional doubt)
Some causes of doubt:
a. assurance of salvation – (“there is no sinner’s prayer in the Bible, it’s about where you heart is”)
b. why bad things happen to good people
c. why is God silent (as opposed to the Bible where he ‘talked’ all the time)
d. ‘what if’ anxiety (what if this or that happens? what if this or that aren’t true?) leads to more anxiety
Some thoughts on getting past doubt – we need to remind ourselves of some important stuff
Phil. 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. (E.S.V.)
1Pet. 5:6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11 To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen. (E.S.V.)
by reminding ourselves – telling ourselves these important truths we are “changing our minds” – look at what Paul says about that…
Rom. 12.1-2 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (E.S.V.)
It is the presence of the Holy Spirit indwelling us that is the agent of getting past doubt… Thanks Dr. Habermas for bringing a reminder about the heart to a very “heady” conference.
To sum up… from my own experience, I doubt most when I have chosen to step back from God and my fellow followers of God… others have different experience… but one thing is sure, living a life of thanksgiving… a life of reminding myself of all that I have to be thankful for – reminds my soul of how much He loves and cares for me. Thanks be to God on Thanksgiving!
[1} Prof. Habermas was an awesome teacher when I was in school… someone is maintaining a web site for him. On this site are two books on doubt… The Thomas Factor & Dealing With Doubt. he mentioned them to me after the talk and told me they are out of print so they are free online.