on doubt

Here is a post from C.J. Mahaney talking about Os Guiness and his book In Two Minds: The Dilemma of Doubt and How to Resolve It (IVP, 1976). This book is now sold as God in the Dark: The Assurance of Faith Beyond a Shadow of Doubt.

as I have said before, Mark 9:24 is one of my favorite verses in the Bible because it so accurately captures faith as I experience it.

I agree with Mr. Guiness that anyone who has ever believed anything has experienced doubts. Doubts have to be named and faced. Doubt only becomes destructive if it is swept into a closet for dealing with later.

As quoted by C.J. Mahaney, here is a clip from the first chapter of Os Guiness’ book on the proper role of doubt in a believer’s life.

“Christianity places a premium on the absolute truthfulness and trustworthiness of God, so understanding doubt is extremely important to a Christian. Of course, faith is much more than the absence of doubt, but to understand doubt is to have a key to a quiet heart and a quiet mind. Anyone who believes anything will automatically know something about doubt. But the person who knows why he believes is also in a position to discover why he doubts. The Christian should be such a person.

Not only does a Christian believe, he is a person who ‘thinks in believing and believes in thinking,’ as Augustine expressed it. The world of Christian faith is not a fairy-tale, make-believe world, question-free and problem-proof, but a world where doubt is never far from faith’s shoulder.

Consequently, a healthy understanding of doubt should go hand in hand with a healthy understanding of faith. We ourselves are called in question if we have no answer to doubt. If we constantly doubt what we believe and always believe-yet-doubt, we will be in danger of undermining our personal integrity, if not our stability. But if ours is an examined faith, we should be unafraid to doubt. If doubt is eventually justified, we were believing what clearly was not worth believing. But if doubt is answered, our faith has grown stronger still. It knows God more certainly and it can enjoy God more deeply.” (pp. 15-16).

here is the way that I put it in an email last fall.

I would say that as I have gotten older I have experienced a change myself in how I view and experience God. I have become less and less sure of some things and more and more sure of others as I have grown older.

I am much less sure of many of the specific doctrinal things about which I used to be certain. I am much more certain of the reality of a personal, living, loving, relational God because I have experienced the wonderful joy and privilege of spending time with Him getting to know Him and letting Him get to know me.

Based on my experience, I can confidently assert that God is real and that He loves you right where you are in whatever circumstances you find yourself.

Recently I read the book Blue Like Jazz. [] You should definitely get a copy and read it. It is like no other book I have ever read. Donald Miller says the following on page 51:

            “The goofy thing about Christian faith is that you believe it and don’t believe it at the same time. It isn’t unlike having an imaginary friend. I believe in Jesus; I believe He is the Son of God, but every time I sit down to explain this to somebody I feel like a palm reader, like somebody who works at a circus or a kid who is always making things up or somebody at a Star Trek convention who hasn’t figured out the show isn’t real.

            When one of my friends becomes a Christian, which happens about once every ten years because I am such a sheep about sharing my faith, the experience is euphoric. I see in their eyes the trueness of the story.” (emphasis added)

I know exactly what Don means in that quote. The only thing I would add is that when I spend time with my God, my Savior and my Father in Heaven, the experience is euphoric. To be known completely and yet still completely loved is liberating. I personally feel the trueness of the story.

hat tip to Challies for the link to C.J. Mahaney.


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