What Every Christian Should Know About Doubt

In Evangelicalism, doubt is a sin. Faith is synonymous with certainty. There are levels of faith that can be achieved based on different factors (mostly behavior).

But Biblical faith is a relationship. It’s more a marriage than a contract.

The strength of your faith is based on the level of your doubt. If you’ve never doubted your faith, then your faith has never been tested. If your faith has never been tested, then it can’t be trusted.

Evangelicals avoid dissent. A good Evangelical will not read, listen to, or entertain any ideas or beliefs that are different from theirs. As a kid, our church would tell us which authors we could and could not read and which pastors we should and should not listen to. Obviously, we were only allowed to read books and listen to pastors who agreed with our views.

Doubt is biblical. And if you are doubting, rest assured that you are in good company:

John the Baptist

Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?” (Matthew 11:3)

Remember that John the Baptist is the one who declared that Jesus was, “The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

The same man who declared that Jesus was the anticipated Messiah, is now wondering if he made a mistake. John the Baptist was the cousin of Jesus, and likely grew up hearing the story of how Mary came to visit his mother, Elizabeth, and how he kicked in her womb when she showed up. Jesus is family to John the Baptist. If a family member who believed that they were the cousin of the promised Messiah has some doubts, it’s okay for us to have them too.

Job

Job doubts multiple aspects of God’s character and decisions, including the decision to let Job be born (see Job chapter 3). The Bible also says that during his troubles, Job did not sin (1:22; 2:10). If he didn’t sin, and he doubted, then doubt is not a sin.

Job repeatedly questions God (and his misguided friends). God (finally) begins to speak in chapter 38. God says something very interesting in his final speech. He speaks to one of Job’s friends (Eliphaz) and says, “I am angry with you and your two friends, for you have not spoken accurately about me, as my servant Job has” (42:7). The word translated “accurately” means that Job had the right idea in questioning God, not that Job was right in how he portrayed God.

God tells Eliphaz that he and his friends were wrong to think they knew everything, but Job was right to question God and admit he didn’t have answers.

God welcomes our questions and our doubts. In the church I grew up in, I was taught doubt was bad and you should not question God.

God can handle your questions. God can handle your doubts.

Doubting Thomas (See John 20:24-29)

Thomas has a Trumpian nickname (Doubting Thomas) for the doubt that he expressed. But he really does not deserve this nickname nor his reputation. There is no reason to believe that any of the disciples would have responded differently than Thomas (see below).

So many of us can resonate with Thomas’ doubt. Many people have felt the same way as Thomas – “show me the proof.” Maybe you have thought, “Unless I can see the holes in his hands and his feet, I won’t believe in Jesus.” If you’ve thought that, it’s okay. You’re not alone.

There’s a reason it’s called “faith” and not “proof.”

Yes. There is evidence that leads to faith in Christ and most Christians don’t blindly have faith in Christ, but it’s called faith for a reason.

The Other Disciples

When Jesus appears to the disciples after the resurrection, He says to them, “Why are you frightened?” “Why are your hearts filled with doubt?” (Luke 24:38)

The disciples are “filled with doubt” and yet they are standing there looking at the resurrected Jesus. How can we not doubt when we have never seen the resurrected Jesus?

We can take comfort that when we doubt, we share that doubt with the people who were the closest to Jesus and saw him after he was resurrected.

Is your faith really that strong if it has never been questioned? If you have never questioned your faith, then you have not thought for yourself. When you have doubted your faith, what comes out on the other side is even stronger. Those beliefs have stood up to the test.

If you want to increase your faith, doubt it.
If you want to strengthen your faith, question it.

Give your faith the benefit of the doubt.

About Matthew Thisse

Matthew Thisse is a Jesus follower, single father, associate pastor, and corporate trainer. He is a former Evangelical and a failed fundamentalist.

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