Christian Unbelief and Doubt Part 3
For parts 1 and 2 of this series, listen here: Christian Unbelief and Doubt Part 1 and Christian Unbelief and Doubt Part 2.
Introduction (2Co 4 – We live by faith, not by sight)
Becoming a Christian does not mean we will never struggle with unbelief and doubt (ever again) as it relates to God. Nor should we believe doubt is always bad. In the words of 17th century philosopher Francis Bacon, “If a man will begin with certainties, he will end in doubts; but if he is content to begin with doubts, he will end in certainties.” In other words, doubt can be a sign that I need to do further study – which (then) leads to confidence and certainty in what I believe vs. “blind faith.” It is for this reason that Jude says to “have mercy on those who doubt” (Jud 1:22). We should not initially view others having doubt as treason. At the same time, we must shore it up before it becomes dangerous (Pro 4:23; Heb 3:12). How doubt becomes dangerous is its leading to falling away in two ways:
- It leads to unfaithfulness (commitment requires conviction and confidence in belief).
- It leads to apostasy.
To illustrate, doubt (i.e. the deceit of sin in the mind) is like little fires that start in the middle of the forest – which if left to themselves will become a raging inferno destroying everything in its path (it this case – our faith).
What fuels these “fires” of doubt:
- Ignored intellect (intellectual problem – insufficient data)
- Intellect ignored (moral problem – the data is there, but it is being ignored) – this is what makes it “evil.”
This study gives you the data to fix the first, the second is a moral issue (i.e. rebellion) and can only be fixed through repentance.
There are six types of doubt: Practical, Ontological, Religious, Situational, Scriptural, and Perfunctory.
4. Situational Doubt
Definition/examples: “Paralysis by analysis” leads to despair and doubt – but only happens when such analysis is done without the proper tool to decode the data. For example, how do I raise good children? How do I have a good marriage? How do I make decisions? What do I do with anxiety? How do I alleviate getting anxiety? How do I make life easier and happier? What is my purpose? Lacking the answer to any of these questions can cause someone to become confused, despairing, and doubt their Christianity – since if my religion does not provide answers (i.e. solutions) to real life questions, then it is not reality – but fantasy I am following.
Solution: I can take any question, situation, or problem and find the answer (i.e. solution) if I apply the “decoder tool” of all life to it = God’s Word. In other words, I can find the answer if I start by asking the question, “what does God’s Word say about it?” (By the way, the answer to all issues or questions in relation to living life are found in God’s Word (Psa 16:7; 2Pe 1:3)). (e.g. present decisions – Pro 27, marriage – Eph 5, children – Eph 6, anxiety – Phi 4, evil and happiness – Pro 28)
5. Scriptural Doubt
Definition/Examples: Is the Bible really the words of God?
Solution: Nothing that has ever been communicated in the history of the world even comes close to comparing to the theology, wisdom, foresight, and justice found in the Bible (Deu 4:6-8).
5.1. The Bible was written by men (not God) and therefore represents their opinions or personal interpretations.
That’s not what the Bible says (2Ti 3:6; 2Pe 1:20-21)
For that claim to be true, means the Bible (or its authors) are lying. How does this individual know that? What evidence do they have to make such serious claims? Additionally, the accusation does not take into account the Bible’s incredible foresight (e.g. prophesies and their fulfillment in relation to the Christ, Jesus’ prophecy in relation to the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD). No normal man could predict what the Bible says.
5.2. The Bible is filled with errors.
That again is not what the Bible claims about itself (Joh 17:17; Pro 30:5; Psa 19:2-9, 119:86, 96, 142, 160, 172)
Thousands of people throughout the history of the world have attempted to find error or contradictions in the Bible – yet all have been unsuccessful. Over 5,000 early copies of the New Testament over a span of 200-300 years have been found with no variation in meaning or doctrine. This by the way, is what is meant by inerrancy. No variation in meaning or doctrine (vs. content) – which is where those who are ignorant attempt to go.
For example: the 4 gospels all have different details.
Answer: Yes, but all can be reconciled with each other. FBI interviewers will tell you this is a sign that those writing were telling the truth vs. colluding together.
For example: In John 14 and 16, the word “Mohammed” was supposedly changed to “the Holy Spirit.”
Answer: Why then do none of the 5,000 copies reflect this?
5.2.3. Incorrect data
For example: Deu 14:7, rabbits don’t chew their cud.
Answer: Though rabbits are not ruminants (i.e. they do not have extra stomachs that regurgitate their food back up to their mouth for more chewing for digestion), they do “rechew for digestion” through cecotrophy. They re-ingest their fecal pellets and rechew them for digestion.
Besides all this, if God exists and the Bible is His book, would He not see to it that it contains no error or contradiction? To assume then that the Bible does include errors is calling God not only a liar but an idiot as well!
5.3. “Miracles show the Bible is made up”
Just because I have never witnessed something supernatural, doesn’t mean it can’t exist. That is extremely poor logic! I didn’t witness the beginning of the universe. Does that mean that it too did not happen?
Good logic is saying that if God exists, then miracles can most assuredly exist. God exists and claims in His book to do miracles – problem solved.
6. Perfunctory Doubt
Definition/examples: Doubt that is the result of spending little to no time reflecting on God’s promises to those who are faithful to be “all in.” To those who are daily committed to acting righteously and obeying all of His commands. When we don’t take time to reflect upon what God promises to those kinds of people we will doubt whether its worth the effort to be those kinds of people. We become like the man in Psalm 73.
6.1. What God promises to the righteous:
2Co 1:20; Psa 5:12, 15:1-5, 16:1-11, 18:30, 23:1-6, 31:19, 23-24, 32:10, 34:4-22, 36:7-9, 37:3-11, 18-31, 35-40, 46:1-11, 52:1-9, 55:22, 62:2, 7-8, 67:1-7, 73:1, 81:1-16, 84:4, 10-12, 97:10-12, 103:1-18, 106:1-7, 112:1-10, 119:43-45; Seeking God’s laws=freedom, seeking freedom=bondage, 119:165, 121:1-8, 125:1-5, 128:1-2, 140:12-13, 145:17-20
In closing consider, the issue is no longer intellectual but moral. In other words, the intellectual data provided in these 6 categories is irrefutable and all encompassing – which means if you consider them and still possess “doubt” the problem is moral – you are choosing to ignore the intellectual data – you are choosing to ignore the reality. The only solution is to repent before it is too late.