Doubts about Jesus. What do we do with them? Frequently I feel like doubting Thomas who said, “Unless I see the holes in Jesus’ hands and I touch his wounds, I will never believe in the resurrection.” (see John 20:25) But when these doubts overcome my mind, I have a choice to make. Do I give in and walk away from the faith? Or do I test them to see if they are valid? Here is what Tim Keller, a pastor in New York City says about doubts:
A faith without some doubts is like a human body without any antibodies in it. People who blithely go through life too busy or indifferent to ask hard questions about why they believe as they do will find themselves defenseless against either the experience of tragedy or the probing questions of a smart skeptic. A person’s faith can collapse almost overnight if she has failed over the years to listen patiently to her own doubts, which should only be discarded after long reflection.” - Timothy Keller1
Contrary to popular opinion, doubts may not be the enemy to faith but the bootcamp to a stronger faith. It all depends on what we do with our doubts. Tim Keller later encourages his readers to doubt their doubts. This means to wrestle with them. Test them. Investigate their validity. Only when we do this, will we be more confident in our conviction of what is true.
STEP 1: ADMIT THAT WE HAVE DOUBTS
The first step to doubting our doubts is to admit that we have doubts about Jesus. If we say we do not have any doubts, we are not being honest, or we are not paying attention to what the Bible actually says. Exploring our doubts may take some time of reflection and quieting of our souls. We might need to ask questions like, “What is difficult for me to believe about Jesus?” or “What teachings of Jesus or the Bible do I have a hard time swallowing?” Honest answers to these questions is the first step to doubting our doubts.
STEP 2: ASK, “WHAT STARTED THESE DOUBTS?”
The second step to doubting our doubts is look for the reasons those doubts might exist. What are the seeds of doubt? In a sermon on Doubting Thomas, D.A Carson gives a few seeds of doubt2:
- Severe disappointment - God did not perform they way I wanted or expected him to.
- Moral disagreement - I do not want to believe because I want to run my life.
- Ignorance - I do not know the facts, so I am not sure.
- One thousand small decisions - I stopped reading my Bible, praying and going to church. Now I just do not believe anymore.
I would like to add one more seed of doubt.
- Religious indifference - I do no care enough to investigate.
STEP 3: TEST THEIR VALIDITY
Once we admit our doubts, and find the seed of our doubts, we must test their validity. This means conducting a reasonable investigation to determine if our doubts are true. The way to do this is to ask questions regarding:
- Clues - Are there any clues in the Bible, literature, history, or nature that verify the truth of this doubt? When compared to the clues of Jesus’ resurrection, which is more reasonable to believe?
- Implications - What are the implications of this doubt being true? Am I ok with that?
- Alternatives - If this doubt is true, what alternative religious belief should I trust?
Only by testing our doubts, will we be able to stand firm in what we believe. Do you, have the courage to doubt your doubts?
1 Keller, Timothy (2008-02-14). The Reason for God . Penguin Group US. Kindle Edition.