HOW I will remain a Christian (or 5 ways to deal with doubts)

Thom DickApologetics, Featured6 Comments

 

There are certain things that we do that put our faith into unnecessary danger. I have developed some ways of defeating doubts in my own mind, but also ways to mitigate the doubts in the first place. Let me give you five ways to deal with doubts.

One: Don’t become a Facebook apologist

Look, Facebook is a magnet for bizarre and obscure arguments against (and FOR) the existence of God. It is rife with false information and angry, angry people. I personally love Facebook, I occasionally even get a kick out of the silly, nay STUPID, things people say there. But I also have pretty thick skin to deal with personal attacks and many people don’t.

I often tell our students that smart people are people who HAVE all the answers, smart people know where to LOOK for the answers. Facebook isn’t that place. So be smart – go to the church library for answers.

Two: Never become lazy dealing with questions

It just a short hop skip and jump from a legitimate question to a major doubt. Doubts are like weeds that suddenly explode into your garden. If you had a handful of mystery seeds, you might plant them to see what grows, but if dandelions sprouted – you would get out the weed killer! So, questions might be fun to plant and watch grow, but be careful not to seed doubts! No one plants dandelions on purpose… that’s just ridiculous.

We need to be diligent dealing with questions – don’t assume you have a dumb question – the devil likes that kind of thinking. Any question that sits in your head and heart is worth examining and dealing with.

Three: Choose your friends wisely

There’s this little conglomerate of atheists in our town. They used to meet once a week for coffee and to discuss silly churches and Christian mythologists. I’ve met a couple of them and have been invited out to join them once or twice. Personally, I think this would be a hoot, but the simple truth is, I don’t need it in my life. I have a family. I have a job (and they are not my job.) I have blogs to write and staff to lead and friends who actually like to hang out with me. In short, giving them my time would likely be a big fat waste of time.

We tell our kids to choose their friends wisely, but do we as parents? Often, we are well-intentioned in going for coffees with people, but I think sometimes we overestimate our ability to convince people of what we believe. Don’t get me wrong, I love evangelism. But evangelism with someone who isn’t interested in the truth is a nauseating and counterproductive exercise.

George MacDonald said, “To give truth to him who loves it not is to only give him more multiplied reasons for misinterpretation.”

I choose friends who will encourage me to think about my faith, not question every aspect of it.

Four: I will do my devotions and go to church

Self-explanatory. If you aren’t willing to do the things that are a regular part of Christian life, then don’t be surprised when you are derailed by doubts.

Five: Deal with doubts when they come

Doubts are a real part of life, we might as well just admit it and deal with it. I get a bit annoyed with Christians who say they never doubt. I may have tremendous confidence in the existence of God, and while I haven’t doubted my salvation in a long time, there are pieces of Christianity that cause me to doubt.

So, while I avoid silly skeptics, I still doubt from time to time. Sometimes I wonder if Jesus is really going to return and establish His kingdom on earth? And sometimes that is too fantastical for even this imagination. But I’m ruthless with my doubts. I expose them to rigorous testing and they usually fail to stand against the truth I know.

So when I doubt, this is what I do – I ask myself the very questions I went over in my previous blog. I ask myself

  1. Does Truth exist? The answer is yes. I know that Truth exists objectively and that I can know it. My five senses tell me a lot about the material world. Philosophy affirms that Truth exists logically. Theology tells me that Truth is a Person and that my genuine pursuit of that Person leads me to inner peace and confidence.
  2. Is there a god? The answer is yes. The number of arguments for the existence of a god – any god – is staggering. From the existence of the Universe (“Why is there something rather than nothing?”) to the existence of a universal moral code, I am confident that the world did not arise from nothing and for nothing.
  3. Which god is it? This answer is a bit more complex. With this one, I have simply done the hard work of learning about world religions and I am confident that when they are compared with the beauty and intelligibility of Christianity, Christianity takes the cup!
  4. Did God reveal Himself? The answer is yes. He did so in the Bible, in the life of Jesus Christ, in nature, in history and in my experience of Him. The Bible is a reliable document – it’s the most reliable ancient document… well… ever!

So finally, with all that information, I sigh and remind my heart that I am in the safest place possible; my Father’s arms. And that is how I will remain a Christian – by taking my doubts seriously and doing the hard work of answering them. That’s my plan and that’s what I will teach my children! What’s yours?

6 Comments on “HOW I will remain a Christian (or 5 ways to deal with doubts)”

  1. For Humanists Doubt is a good. It helps us understand the real world better. Doubt is a driver of science and new discoveries. Doubt helps human beings tell fact from fiction. Doubt is not a something to be wiped out but something to be cultivated with a skeptical eye. I’m sorry you feel visiting others that don’t think like you is a wast of time. I’m a Humanist and atheist Ive been to Christian churches, apologetics conferences and I’ve spoke to Christians in their coffee shops it’s never a waist of time. The bible says the truth will set you free but you can’t be truly free without a heathy dose doubt.

    1. The Renewed Family

      Hi Pat,

      Thanks for the comment, Pat! I’m actually not saying that doubt is always bad. Doubt that spurs us onto discover the truth and think deeply is a great thing. The problem is that many people are paralysed by doubt; that’s unhealthy. Also, the Bible clearly teaches that we can have confidence in what we believe, and that is what I am addressing here. It is possible to be a confident Christian. In my mind, doubt has several faces. There is the skepticism (perhaps different than the “skeptical eye” you mention) that begins with the assumption that something’s amiss; a “guilty until proven innocent” type of approach to life. Unfortunately, I find that many agnostics and atheists, even Christians, fall into that category of doubt. And honestly, it often feels like nothing would satisfy them. But then there is the face of doubt which would be more appropriately called wonder. Wonder is a fabulous thing! It isn’t paralyzed by unanswered questions, instead, it holds that there is mystery to life and is even motivated and excited by that idea. I trust that you have a wondering heart for truth. Thanks for your willingness to engage thoughtfully and amiably on issues that far too often divide.

      Thom

      1. Thanks for the reply Thom.

        I suppose I misunderstood you, your comment regarding doubts you equated doubts to dandylions that should be wiped out with weed killer. That indicated to me you considered doubt to be a bad thing.

        I would disagree with your/the definition of doubt : “that begins with the assumption that something’s amiss; a guilty until proven innocent”

        Doubt for most Humanists is a way of checking our suppositions and presuppositions against the evidence. We don’t feel there’s “something’s amiss” with our beliefs or worldview, we doubt because we want to live with as many true beliefs as possible and rid ourselves of as many false ones that we can.

        You’re correct, I think many people are paralyzed by their doubts. Fortunately we rarely see this in the Humanist community. This is because Humanism teaches us to embrace our doubts and learn from them and not to insulate ourselves against new ideas, different people or different worldviews. Admittedly it a tuff thing to put into practice but it’s one of the beautiful things about Humanist philosophy.

  2. On another note I would be happy to talk to your church or church Group about what Humanism is and its philosophy regarding doubt

  3. I see my comment didn’t pass approval. This is ok, and my offer still stands. I would be more then happy to talk to your church on any subject regarding Humanism.

    1. The Renewed Family

      I apologize, Pat, I thought it had been approved. I appreciate your offer, but I don’t think it would work to have you speak to our students. We almost never have outside speakers and when you only have one hour a week to teach, that time is precious to us.

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