Faith and doubt

by Richard on October 17, 2006

I don’t normally see Time magazine, so I’m grateful that this article was brought to my attention. In When Not Seeing Is Believing, Andrew Sullivan considers the rise of fundamentalism and religious conflict. He locates the root of many of our present troubles in the kind of religious certainty that must always refuse to accept that any other view is possible.

For Sullivan, the solution lies in the range of religious experience beyond fundamentism, which is both broad and deep.

There is, however, a way out. And it will come from the only place it can come from–the minds and souls of people of faith. It will come from the much derided moderate Muslims, tolerant Jews and humble Christians. The alternative to the secular-fundamentalist death spiral is something called spiritual humility and sincere religious doubt. Fundamentalism is not the only valid form of faith, and to say it is, is the great lie of our time.

I very much agree with Mr Sullivan that doubt is not the enemy of faith in the way that is often presented. The error of fundamentalism is not that it places too much trust in God, but that it places far too much trust in men and women. After all, without an inerrant interpreter, there can be no inerrant scriptures.

Speaking for myself, I have to say that there are many things I am certain of. I hope that I live, speak and act according to those certainties. But of all the things I am sure of, one stands head and shoulders above the rest: some of my certainties are mistaken. By definition, I don’t know which stuff I’m wrong about but (much as it pains me to admit it) the chances of me being right about everything are negligible.

Perhaps theologians need to discover the religious equivalent of the physicists’ uncertainty principle. In the meantime, we could all work on what John Wesley called “catholic spirit, which is prepared to look across barriers of race and creed and seek those things which unite rather than divide.

For people of faith this need is urgent, for there is another kind of fundamentalism outside the monotheistic traditions, namely secular fundamentalism — a belief that any kind of religious expression is in itself stupid and dangerous. This is a far greater threat to Christianity than the divide between conservatives and liberals, or even Christianity and Islam.

We will never be united in our certainties, but if we are honest we will find that doubt and fear are two things we all share in common. Faith is not knowing all the answers. It is taking a step, however hesitant, into places unknown. For Christians, the confidence to make that step comes from trusting God promises no more or less than that he will be with us.

That, for me, is certainty enough.

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

1

Joel 10.17.06 at 3:42 pm

Without doubt, I would have plenty of self-confidence in myself, but no faith. Self esteem can be a good thing but it can also be overrated, lest I fail to esteem God. If I have total self-confidence, then where does God’s sovereignty come in, unless I can claim to never err and never sin? Instead, it should be the “confidence of the children of God”, based on radical discipleship and obedience and community with other Christians that leads us to community with the world. Apart from relationship to God, self-confidence slides into selfishness and if God or a god, an almost purely personal construction.

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DH 10.17.06 at 4:39 pm

Where does the passage about Laodicia have on this? This was a church where there was religious relativism. Our confidence should that “I AM the way the truth and the life no one comes to the Father but through Me.” in conjunction with “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.”

How about the passage “Blessed are they who have not seen and yet Believe.”?

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Joel 10.18.06 at 2:54 am

DH,

I think a connection can be made between “not seeing” and doubt. Some of those who have doubts perhaps haven’t fully seen, but yet they believe and are blessed.

Job came to God through the trial of doubt.

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Kim 10.18.06 at 4:06 am

There is a kind of doubt that is socratic, that is simply the mark of an interrogative faith, that recognises that faith is always partial - precisley because it is not “sight” - provisional (I Corinthians 13:12), that God “is always more” (Deus semper major). This doubt is not only inevitable - it is given with creation - it is indispensible.

But there is another kind of doubt, which we must also acknowledge as inevitable, but precisely because we are sinful - sin, remember, is not only a moral condition, it is a cognitive condition too (which, by the way, is why the doctrine of inerrancy is so fatuous, indeed heritical, pelagian: an inerrant interpreter indeed!) So this type of doubt is nothing to be proud of (Tillich sometimes almost seemed boastful of doubt), but neither is it something to despair of. It is to be taklen seriously - but not too seriously, rather like “demons”(see Luther, C.S. Lewis, Barth):

Because, for one thing, you don’t need oodles and oodles of faith, a spoonful-of-mustard faith will do - and it seems to me that if you’re worried about doubt, that’s a sure sign that you’ve got some faith.

But, above all, because we are not saved by knowing God, we are saved by being known by God, saved not by faith but by the object of faith (otherwise faith itself becomes a form of works righteousness - which is where Arminians have to watch themselves). In short (Tillich was spot on here), because the justification of the sinner includes the justification of the doubter.

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Joel 10.18.06 at 4:45 am

Kim,

I quite agree that not all doubt is helpful to the faith. If doubt is carried around as a cherished possession it is destructive. I can doubt by refusing to allow God to engage me (is that too Arminian for you?) and that is simply pride.

As long as the phrase “saved by faith” is understood as a shortcut or abbreviation to the fuller idea that we are saved through God’s grace, then I don’t have a problem with “saved by faith.” However, if we truly believe that our measly faith can pull us out of the pit, we are quite misinformed. It then makes us think that faith can be separated from grace.

A well-known United Methodist preacher in Oklahoma — except I forget his name — preached at Annual Conference with a sermon title “It’s Not Who You Know, but Who Knows You.” He started out by the example of people trying to get places in life by knowing the right people, or impressing others by name-dropping, etc. and then developed the theme of God knowing us.

What I would be better claiming is that not all doubt is inherently in opposition to faith.

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DH 10.18.06 at 2:42 pm

Joel, Job never came to God by way of doubt. He may have doubted individual actions but he never doubted the nature of God. That God was God. To me it is a matter of is the belief, Belief. Not that faith can’t lead to Faith, but much of what we call Faith is actually Faith. If you get mydrift on the capitalization. How much greater of a testimony wuld it be if Thomas would have Believed He was God already without the doubt. Jesus addressed the problem of Him needing to see with his eyes what he should already have believed. This is like David saying “…yet I will praise Him.” and in paraphrase Job said the same thing. They may not have understood the why but they never question God being God and the nature of God.

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Joel 10.18.06 at 6:05 pm

DH,

Well, ultimately, God came to Job through God’s grace and Job’s faith, but for sure doubt plays a big role in the story of Job. God used Job’s doubt to strengthen him.

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DH 10.18.06 at 7:39 pm

I think God used not the doubt to strengthen him but the incident to confirm the Faith he already had. That is why God allowed the situation in the first place aka satan going to God and asking. Godhad so much confidence in Job’s Faith that paraphrase God was indirectly saying “bring it on Job his Faith in Me is that strong”. It was a testing of His Faith like Paul mentioned. To me there is a difference between testing of Faith and doubt. That is why Job rebuked all those people who said to renounce God or say that Job was in sin. Jobs Faith was that strong.

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Pam 10.18.06 at 7:39 pm

Faith is, I think, ultimately something that is done and that is lived out. I think we need we need the local church as our living teacher to show us how people of faith live, how people of faith hope and how people of faith struggle.

Faith is not mainly about propositional ideas. Propositional ideas might be signposts, but they are no more faith than a sign saying “San Francisco 250 miles” is San Francisco.

There is undoubtedly part of this journey where doubt is a big part of what is going on, but doubt doesn’t define faith. Theological fundamentalism isn’t faith because it requires one leap and then the rest is knowing and being certain.

Faith is not about certainty. Faith is living in a war zone and believing in the possibility of peace. Faith is losing a child and believing in resurrection. Faith is knowing myself to be a sinner and believing in God’s power to transform me.

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Kim 10.18.06 at 11:04 pm

DH,

With (I think I’m right and saying) Joel and Pam, I do not recognise your Job. Here is the Job I recognise:

“It is of the essence of Job’s position that he is depicted not as locked into assured certainties [as are his 'friends'], but as on a pilgrimage, a troubled stormy pilgrimage, searching for a faith which will make sense of his experience. . . The nature of Job’s encounter with God was inseparable from his protest against an over-simplistic theology. He refused to allow his friends to rewrite his life to preserve that theology. Instead he challenged them and himself to rethink. He struggled to grasp the God who was beyond the God of current theology. In the outcome his hurt protests, his bitter wrestling with God, were justified. There was more faith in such deeply questioning protests and skepticism than in the pious affirmation of untroubled, but blind, certainty.”

Roger Davidson
Professor of Old Testament Theology
University of Glasgow

In The Courage to Doubt (1983), Davidson explores the theme of the title in the Patriarchal and Mosaic traditions, in the Psalms and prophetic narratives, particularly Jeremiah, and in Job and Ecclesiastes. And, of course, there is a message here for us today, which Davison draws in the last paragraph of the book: “There are those today who wish to live unquestioningly within the security of inherited structures of belief and practice; for such people the Old Testament must be a very disturbing or closed book. . . It is in the struggle . . .in the painful groping for new light in the midst of a darkness that seems total, that the Old Testament bears its clearest witness to the courage to doubt.”

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Joel 10.18.06 at 11:56 pm

DH,

You may be thinking of passages in which Jesus rebukes the disciples for doubt. There is the difference that Jesus has been among them and they have been witnesses to Christ’s ministry and miracles. He is reminding them of what they already know, at least in part or great measure, lest they “backslide.” He is helping them to remember and enact what they have learned. On the other hand, Jesus understands that his disciples are in varying stages of maturity in the faith.

I’m not saying that doubt is part of faith, just that God can use that experience in many instances to instill faith, to reveal himself, etc. Nor am I saying that all doubt is good. See Kim’s comment on that above, nor am I saying that doubt is a virtue.

Once, I lost a key to my high school main building (I was on the newspaper staff that worked at night). Losing the key wasn’t a good thing in and of itself, but my parents certainly used that experience to instill in me a sense of greater responsiblity. Losing that key was part of the journey to growing up. This is perhaps a weak analogy, but it is what I can think of for now.

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DH 10.19.06 at 2:41 pm

but Joel, Job never questioned God being God. For me that is true Faith. Even in all of the questions He still never lost Faith in who God was at all times. He may have questioned “what the purpose for all of this” but he never doubted who God is. Even when the friends said “curse God” he never did. Even when other friends said “you must be in sin” he never did because he new he had Faith so much to rebuke those friends as well. To me God allowed satan to go after Job because He knew how strong Job’s Faith was. Why else would God do that? We know God never gives too much to His Believers that they cannot handle. On thedisciple thing I don’t believe they truly had Saving Faith until they understood that Jesus was God.

I like this passage on Faith “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ,[a] for it is the power of God to salvation FOR EVERYONE WHO BELIEVES, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”

Beth, I totally agree with this “Faith is knowing myself to be a sinner and believing in God’s power to transform me.” I would add that by accetping Christ as our Savior is what starts the process of being transformed. A person might have faith and Godspeaking to them but Saving Faith is different that is the one that leads to repentence and accepting Christ as Savior, the only way that one can be Saved. Nowhere in Scripture does it say Faith in anything other than Jesus can Salvation be obtained. Nowhere does it say all will obtain Saving Faith because Jesus mentions those who will reject Him and even says “they are condemned already”. However, I do Believe this wonderful thing you said with a little addition.

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DH 10.19.06 at 2:53 pm

To me what is lived out is from the Faith or faith (depending on what stange the person is at) the person has already. That is where the bible talks about Faith to Faith. For unbelievers it is faith to Faith (at least we hope unless people get a false sense of security in their works and thus making it faith to nothing). For Believers it is Faith to Faith, toward Sanctification.

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Pam 10.19.06 at 7:09 pm

I might be totally out on a limb here, but I seriously doubt that there were many individuals in Job’s time who did not believe in God, a God, or gods.

When Job’s wife urged him to curse God and die, she was not saying “Who believes in a supernatural God anyway, just give the whole thing a rest”; this is a modernist problem. She was saying (metaphorically of course) “Give God a good kick in the groin and be down with the nasty so-and-so.”

There are still many people in this modernist world - and I was one of them - who emphatically do believe in God. Their challenge is not the modernist problem of believing in a supernatural God. Their challenge is the ancient problem of believing in a God who is entirely Good. People who insist on us believing 613 modernist propositions about God before breakfast don’t help our faith in the slightest. And perhaps, we are not very good for the modernist unbelievers either?

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DH 10.19.06 at 7:31 pm

Pam, but true Faith is in God the one true God. Many people believed in gods but those were false gods. You mention “good”. How are you who are not good (there are none righteous no not one) determine what God does as not being good? There are many things that people feel are in the natural not good but actually are good.

To me the problem was that the people in Jobs time wanted him to reject the only One true God (God the Father, not all of thefalse gods or supernatural gods but the One true God) and some rebuked Job because they thought the actions toward Job were do to his sin. The fact remains what happened to Job allowed by God might have been what we consider bad but in all actuality was good. God knew Job would pass the test due to his Faith in the one true God.

I just don’t see the metaphor when in all actuality she said “curse God and die”.

Maybe not Believing with all your heart what God truly is is the problem? Maybe rather than questioning the goodness of God have our minds covered with the fact that God IS good even when we don’t think so and that should overshdow the “don’t think so”. Sometimes thequestions of God are not questions but are in all actuality being critical of God. I Believe we should never be critical of God. We should have an attitude like David “…yet I will praise Him”. We always focus on all the people who “so-called doubted” but never focus on what they say within thesame conversation “yet I will still praise Him”.

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Pam 10.19.06 at 10:54 pm

Pam, but true Faith is in God the one true God. Many people believed in gods but those were false gods. You mention “good”. How are you who are not good (there are none righteous no not one) determine what God does as not being good? There are many things that people feel are in the natural not good but actually are good.

DH, the people who taught me that God didn’t love me were also “not good”. Why do I believe that they were incorrect? I believe that the were incorrect because I don’t think that the God revealed in the bible is a picture of a God who chooses to love only certain people.

Why do you think the picture of God that these people had was more true than mine? Or why do you think I was more mistaken then they?

To me the problem was that the people in Jobs time wanted him to reject the only One true God (God the Father, not all of thefalse gods or supernatural gods but the One true God)

First of all, it was his wife - as I recall - who urged Job to curse God and die. To curse God is to insult him, to turn one’s back on him and walk away. Are you suggesting that she was urging him to embrace another god besides YHWH? And, if so, where do you get that idea from the text?

and some rebuked Job because they thought the actions toward Job were do to his sin.

This was the normal world-view. Hence the apostles couldn’t understand how a man could have been born blind. People believed that if you were ill or poor, it was undeniable evidence that God had cursed you. The world-view that “God is on the side of the healthy, rich and powerful” is the world-view that Jesus taught us was incorrect.

The fact remains what happened to Job allowed by God might have been what we consider bad but in all actuality was good. God knew Job would pass the test due to his Faith in the one true God.

Sorry, to me that’s just Calvinist rationalisation and it might be “harmless” in interpreting Job. It gets pretty serious when you start saying that it’s good that God had predestined me for damnation or that it’s good that a baby has burned to death in a fire. The revelation of Jesus is that God does not send the mess (totally consistent with Job) but that he does walk with us in the pain and the hurt.
Maybe not Believing with all your heart what God truly is is the problem? Maybe rather than questioning the goodness of God have our minds covered with the fact that God IS good even when we don’t think so and that should overshdow the “don’t think so”.

Taken to the extreme, that means we have no moral or ethical compass. In the minor prophets, God does not say “I created rich and poor. I created the system whereby the rich plunge the poor ever more into debt and this system is good because everything that happens is according to my will.” No, he tells us humans that we have done these evil things of our own free will and that he’s darn angry about it.

Sometimes thequestions of God are not questions but are in all actuality being critical of God.

And very many times, the questions are very genuinely questions that people have problems with. The book of Job is full of Job asking questions and Job’s friends asking questions.

I Believe we should never be critical of God. We should have an attitude like David “…yet I will praise Him”. We always focus on all the people who “so-called doubted” but never focus on what they say within thesame conversation “yet I will still praise Him”.

So you would criticise the Old Testament Patriarchs who questioned God?

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DH 10.19.06 at 11:18 pm

On 1) I never mentioned that God didn’t love all people. He does. However it is by Faith that we enter the Kingdom not of works. With regard to good. God did a good thing in testing Job. The reason He tested Him was because God knewhow strong His Faith was. In the natural we may think it was bad but how are we to say what God did was bad when God is good? That is the reason I have problem questioning if God is good when we know He is.

On 2) Sorry, but you misunderstood what I said. I never suggested that his wife or friends, that wasn’t the point, was rejecting God for false gods but that they wanted him to reject. I mentioned this in relation to Beth’s relativistic view of God, and the purpose of the friends or wife that was suggesting this. The point in all of this was more how strong Job’s Faith was that in all of this he never reject the Faith he had in the one true God.

On 3) On this one I wasn’t rebuking the people who said it was due to his sin but pointing out how strong Job’s Faith was.

On 4) I was pointing out from Scripture the fact that satan went to God to ask to attack God and God agreed based on God knowing how strong His Faith was. You can’t rationalize the fact that satan went to God and God allowed it and that the purpose for God allowing it was God’s knowledge og Job’s strong Faith. This has nothing to do with Calvinism or Armininism (of which I’m Calviminian but that is besides the point) but what Scripture says with regard to what happened.

On 5) We do have a moral compass the goodness of God and the overcoming byFaith in Him against the powers of sin in the world. There is free will but there is also the Goodness of God that never changes and that goodness depending on the situation includes testing, trials and tribulations. Not that all of these are testing sometimes it isdue to our sin, living in a sinful world, etc. but the point is that we should never question the goodness of God for that is how the patriarchs stated “…yet I will still praise Him.”

On 6) True but the questions that Job, the man withgreater Faith had, had nothing to do with questions the nature of God for Job stated “…yet I will praise Him.” He knew from facing the trials afterwards the purpose of the trials. As I stated before.

On 7) No, because their questioning never resulted inb them rejecting their Faith in God. All of them said, “…yet I will praise Him”. (I got an idea of what “patriarch” are from your context and I think we are using the same definitions, but one needs to understand fully what is meant by patriarchs and which ones would be in that category).

I hope this answers your questions and I hope this clarifies your concerns and misunderstandings you may have from what I wrote.

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Pam 10.20.06 at 9:46 am

DH

However it is by Faith that we enter the Kingdom not of works.

I agree. And I think that saying “A person has to believe every correct idea about God” is trying to enter the Kingdom by works. In this case, the “work of correct ideas”.

As I said, faith is truth. It’s not ideas.

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Pam 10.20.06 at 9:47 am

DH

However it is by Faith that we enter the Kingdom not of works.

I agree. And I think that saying “A person has to believe every correct idea about God” is trying to enter the Kingdom by works. In this case, the “work of correct ideas”.

As I said, faith is trust. It’s not ideas.

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DH 10.20.06 at 2:50 pm

Faith is truth. I totally agree that is why Jesus says “If you confess with your mouth the LJ and Believe in your heart that GOD hasrisen from the dead you shall be saved.” is mentioned. Jesus, from this passage, must be acknowledged as God and that He has risen from the dead.

Faith is trust but when one doubts the very nature of God being God then how can that be trust? I agree that not every single aspect needs to be understood but there are foundations, like the example from this passage above, that seem to show different from what you are saying.
When Jesus makes reference to those who deny Him and what happens to them I believe that the denial includes havng other gods before Him and.or not believing what this passage above says by Faith.

In the extreme, I don’t see people who worship other gods and say they put their trust in Jesus as actually having Faith to enter the Kingdom. When the Bible says “thou shalt have no other gods before Me.” Faith in the Truth isn’t works.

To go back to what I said in the earlier response. What do you think? I think I covered them all.

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Pam 10.20.06 at 7:32 pm

DH, I really don’t know what you’re talking about any more. I do think that the faith journey of many people takes them to places where they have genuine and sincere doubts and questions. I don’t think these people are worshipping false gods nor do I think they are trying to curse God by their questions.

Doctrine is a signpost to faith, but it is not faith itself. The creeds tell us what Christians have historically believed, but being able to recite the creed is not faith. Faith is trust. I’m not sure I would actually say “faith is truth” (that was a typo). Truth is truth. Faith is based on truth but is a different animal all together.

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DH 10.23.06 at 2:42 pm

I never said being able to cite the creeds as being Faith. All I said is one must believe with all of their heart, soul and mind that Jesus is God, that He rose again and is alive today, repent of your sins and accept Christ with all ones heart, soul and mind. Accepting the Grace by Faith in Him.

While I agree that doctrine isn’t Faith, I would say it is part of Faith. I never said that on can’t question or have doubts. I think if you reread my 7 point response to your issues you can see what I am talking about. My responses are really to point out that doubts are okay but it is a matter of the premises behind the questioning and doubt. In the case of Job and David in the Bible they never questioned the nature of God. They may have questioned individual things that didn’t make sense but they never questioned the nature of God in their response “yet I will still praise you”. I was really pointing this out because we always focus on the doubts and questions of these people in the Bible but never acknowledge the incredible Faith they had all along in the midst of the terrible situations they faced. That’s really all I was trying to get at. If I kind of led you on a (southern term) “wild goose chase” I totally apologize. That was not my intention. I appreciate you Pam. May God bless you. :)

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Pam 10.23.06 at 9:01 pm

DH, OK, fine. I’ve certainly not had a lot of experience “always focusing on the doubt of people in the bible”. My experience of church has been pretty much the opposite - that doubts are not articulated and often not “allowed by peer group pressure” and that people just stop coming to church when they feel like they won’t fit in and be accepted by other members of the congregation. I certainly have not experienced church people having “bad” or “wrong” motives in their doubting. I think they were often very sincere and just quietly fell away when they didn’t feel able to explore their faith in the Christian community any more.

But quite possibly I’ve been going to the wrong churches.

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DH 10.23.06 at 10:16 pm

Pam, I see what you are saying. Maybe not the “doubt” but how about the “doctrine of other people” like the Apostle Paul talks about? I guess for me it is: 1) what is being doubted 2) the motives or heart of the doubter 3) the misconceptions or predispositions before the doubt, etc.
For me we should help people away from the doubt. Rather than say doubt is okay and condone it we should acknowledge it and once acknowledged others should those people away from the doubt to Faith. I feel we can lovingly give advise to help people to not doubt (things that are foundational issues) and/or move away from their doubt to the Truth. Does that make sense?

Also, I’m not focusing on the doubt of people in the Bible but their Faith. They never went against their Faith. They might not have had faith on certain things they went through or didn’t understand certain things but they never rejected their Faith. If you get my drift from the capitalization. I understand that many people have faith but we must help people from faith to Faith. Another question, or doubt, is do people who have faith and not Faith have faith in the first place? That is more another issue for another day. My take on the people who you say “fell away” is that people who truly have Faith won’t “fall away”. They might have faith but they don’t have Faith. My experience is that people who have Faith have given their heart, soul and mind to Jesus and have a personal relationship with Christ. My experience is that many people say they are Believers but don’t have a personal relationship and/or have relationships with other things that are God but are false god (aka universalism, relativism, etc.).

There is adifference between “church people” and Believers by Faith, if you get my drift. I have no idea what churches you go to but I am curious.

On a humorous note just for info sake, in the past here at this site I have told people I’m “SouBaptiNazaEvangeliCostal” or a modified non-denominationalism that has a particular leaning. This isn’t said to push people away and I hope it doesn’t to you. I hope this helps give you better clarification between us and how we can help people from faith to Faith, from Faith to greater Faith and from no faith and/or Faith to Faith. If you get my drift. Interesting discussion, Pam.

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Pam 10.24.06 at 8:52 am

Pam, I see what you are saying. Maybe not the “doubt” but how about the “doctrine of other people” like the Apostle Paul talks about? I guess for me it is: 1) what is being doubted 2) the motives or heart of the doubter 3) the misconceptions or predispositions before the doubt, etc.

This seems to me to have gotten very, very far from the original post here. The first post, it seemed to me, said that doubt is a part of faith. I think that’s almost obvious. If there were absolutely not a shred of doubt, it wouldn’t be faith but it would be certainty.

Secondly I don’t think it’s my place to go around examining people’s doubts in the way you suggest. As an extreme example, would you advocate scolding someone who lost their faith in God because their child had been killed by a hit and run driver? I can’t imagine the harm that would be done saying “It’s not OK for you to God’s existence in this circumstance”.

For me we should help people away from the doubt. Rather than say doubt is okay and condone it we should acknowledge it and once acknowledged others should those people away from the doubt to Faith.

Continuing my extreme example, what Christian would say “Darn right, God doesn’t exist if your child was killed!” (which is “condoning”). And why is it “bad” to say “I can understand that you would feel that God doesn’t exist in a circumstance like this.” (which is acknowledging)

I feel we can lovingly give advise to help people to not doubt (things that are foundational issues) and/or move away from their doubt to the Truth. Does that make sense?

It makes sense and I very much disagree with your technique. I think that if I anxiously try to “help” (read “force”) the bereaved mother to believe in God, there is a very real risk I’ll push her away from God. This is me pushing “my stuff” (my anxiexty that maybe God doesn’t really exist after all?) on to the mother rather than just being there for her and letting her work through her issues with God when she is ready.

None of that means I have to lie to her when she asks me what *I* believe. At her instigation, I’m happy to tell her: a) why I believe in God and b) why I believe that God is good.

But I don’t think it is helpful in the slightest for me to try to force my views on her until she is ready.

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DH 10.24.06 at 2:47 pm

Pam, I see totally what you are saying. I never said we should “shove our views onto people”. However, I think a person when we see that a person is mad at God we can say like you say “I understand why you are mad at God, but here are some people in the Bible (if they are open to hear from the Bible which takes discernment from the Holy Spirit) of people who faced terrible things and even questioned the situations but yet still had their Faith”. I might even share person experiences where my Faith was tested strongly, personal witness. Then end “is there anything I can do to help you be strong in the Lord”. I don’t think this is force but help.

One Scripture that comes to mind “I am CONFIDENT that He who began a goodwork in you will perfom it until the Day of Jesus Christ.”

I agree with everything you said here but I feel confidence is Faith. I know many people who doubt who never have Faith and I know people who doubted and in the end accepted. I just don’t know if we can say the doubt led to Faith or the doubt is part of Faith. I Believe the testing of our Faith can lead to Faith or greater Faith. For me testing and doubt are two different things.

However, if the doubt is a result of a child killed or something like that I toyally agree care must be given. I also know no Christian who would shove their views on someone who knowingly is going through something like this. However, there are many people who doubt who haven’t faced tough situations like you faced. They have predispositions. I think we can through dialogue recognize those type of people who question everything out of different motives than the examples you gave.

This last post, however, is a breath of fresh air. I am encouraged by your last post, other than the small amount of disagreement on faith/certainty. I appreciate this. I appreciate and totally agree with your response towards those who have had children killed and situations like that. However, I hope you can appreciate the type of response I would give for someone who has not faced any tough situations but doubts anyway. It’s a balance between us. I totally appreciate the “iron sharpening iron” here. I definitely appreciate being sharpened. Thank you so much Pam. :)

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Pam 10.24.06 at 3:26 pm

OK, DH, thanks for that. I think we still have some small differences but I’m glad we seem to have been able to communicate in some way. And it’s OK to agree to disagree too, as far as I’m concerned.

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