Are You Wrestling With Doubt?

Have you ever dealt with doubt? Doubting the faith? I have, occasionally still do. I couldn’t pin it down until I did Bible.com’s “Doubting Towards Faith” reading plan. I linked to it in the title. One of the days dealt with intellectual doubt.

What’s Intellectual Doubt?

I’ve studied and made the case for Christianity. I can make it evidentially thanks to books such as Cold-Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels and God’s Crime Scene: A Cold-Case Detective Examines the Evidence for a Divinely Created Universe by J. Warner Wallace. William Lane Craig’s Defenders and Reasonable Faith podcasts help me make it philosophically.

However, some days it just doesn’t feel real, and other days vibrantly so.

Everyone deals with it. C.S Lewis did and had something to say in the Faith chapter of Mere Christianity.

C.S Lewis’ Thoughts On Doubt

“Now faith, in the sense in which I am here using the word, is the art of holding onto things your reason has once accepted in spite of your changing moods. For moods will change whatever view your reason takes. I know that by experience. Now that I am a Christian I do have moods in which the whole thing looks very improbable: but when I was an atheist I had moods and which Christianity looked terribly probable.”
“This rebellion of your moods against your real self is going to come anyway. That is why faith is such a necessary virtue: Unless you tell your moods where to get off, you can Never be either a sound Christian or a sound atheist. Just a creature dithering to and fro.”
“Consequently one must train the habit of faith. The first step is to recognize the fact that your mood change. The next is to make sure that, if you have once accepted Christianity, then some of it’s main doctrines shall be deliberately Held before your mind for some time every day. We have to be continually reminded of what we believe. Neither this belief nor any other will automatically remain alive in the mind. It must be fed.”

But what about unanswered questions?

Here’s an excerpt from the reading plan I mentioned earlier:

“With an increasing number of unanswered questions, how does a Christian keep his passion for Christ intact? Hank Hanegraaff, The Bible Answer Man, once told me: “Instead of being crushed by a gigantic snowball of questions, let your questions increase your awe for God. If we could figure God out, He’d be a pretty small God.” That resonated with me.”

I got hung up on ‘devotional”. Aren’t those touchy-feely? It’s taking an act of God to make me touchy-feely. It is a good point though.

Here’s a tip I read: just begin thanking God for stuff. You’ll be a one-person worship service. Don’t neglect one for the other, though; remember the Greatest Commandment.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 
Mark 12:30

Have you, or do you struggle with doubts sometimes?

When Jehovah Witnesses Drop By

There’s a knock at the door. You open it up to see two nicely dressed people waiting to talk to you. Are they Mormons or Jehovah Witnesses (JWs)? Both groups like to get personal and their drive is admirable.

You stare at each other. What happens now?

Knock-Knock

That’s what happened to us and I saw a few opportunities in it. One, knowing the differences in our theology, it was a way to pressure test our faith. You do not talk to JWs if you don’t know your Bible, they are well-versed in it and trained evangelists.

Two, counter-evangelism. Most people shut the door in their faces. I let them in, and invited them back, building relationship and pushing back with questions here or there on their beliefs. They have a huge focus on the end times and the Kingdom of God.

We discussed the 144,000, how to know if you are one of the 144,000, and so on over the course of two visits. Like the noble Berean, I checked the Scriptures myself (Acts 17:11). There’s a principle for you, check for yourself in the Bible, don’t take things you’re told at face value. Paul told Timothy to study and show himself approved (2 Timothy 2:15).

My goal was to edge over to an essential piece of doctrine. Who is Jesus? They say he’s Michael the Archangel, and I prepared for them to return to plead their case.

It didn’t go as I planned.

Scripture vs. Scripture, Logic vs. Logic

They wouldn’t move from their position.

Okay, what about this, and I showed them Hebrews 1:5-6.

For to which of the angels did God ever say,

“You are my Son;
today I have become your Father”?
Or again,

“I will be his Father,
and he will be my Son”?
And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says,

“Let all God’s angels worship him.”

They blew it off. Their whole argument was based on their is only one loyal heavenly army, not two. It can’t answer to Michael the Archangel and Jesus. I replied that while I’m over an entire shift, that shift also answers to the plant manager.

They kept insisting that the heavenly army can’t answer to both Jesus and Michael.

Where it started in love, it became a battle as I got frustrated.

I went to John 1:3, breaking out logic, using a form of this philosophical argument here.

Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.

Blew it off too.

Then I showed every verse that I had that showed the deity of Christ, argued for the Trinity, told him his translation was flawed. My speech wasn’t full of grace or seasoned with salt (Colossians 4:6).

Before they left, one pointed out this verse in 1 Corinthians 8:1.

Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that “We all possess knowledge.” But knowledge puffs up while love builds up.

I can definitely let it.

Arguing theology with JWs is hard and deity of Christ is the theological hill I’ll die on. I was saddened later by how I handled it and their response. Instead of concern for their souls, it became a battle to prove who was right.

My hope is what my friend Eric reminded me of, that something I said will take root and grow. We can only plant or water, evangelize and teach, but God makes it grow or happen.

Next time I may use John Piper’s approach over at Desiring God.

 

How Firm Is Your Christian Foundation?

You’re scrolling through Facebook, Twitter, or the internet in general, and you see something that makes you stop. An atheist, or antitheist, meme, or something that questions your beliefs, pops up. What do you do? How do you respond? Do you even know how to counter it?

How firm is your foundation?

Most come to their faith experientially. Something happened. That’s what happened to me. I saw things falling into place over the course a year after a desperate plea to a God I wasn’t sure existed as my world crumbled. If you see me in public, feel free to ask me about it.

I converted from an agnostic to a believer. However, I have really smart friends who love to play the devil’s advocate, on top of their posts shaking me as well. So I looked at the case for Jesus and God.

It’s broader and stronger than you’d think. I wrote two posts in a brief series titled Investigating Christianity.

Now memes don’t shake me. I can counter most of them since they’re rhetorically powerful, yet intellectually weak. Others are a source of curiosity, others a struggle, I admit. We all have questions, like understanding the problem of evil inside and out. I can address it, just not as well as I’d like.

Are you ready to give an answer for your faith?

A former atheist, cold-case detective J. Warner Wallace has a series of books chronicling his journey to the faith. He did it by applying his detective skills to the Gospels in Cold-Case Christianity. Then again in God’s Crime Scene. His last one in the trilogy is Forensic Faith, where he makes a case for making a case for Christianity.

Why is it important? First, for your own foundation. You have to have a thoughtful Christianity, if you know it’s true, you’ll more likely live like it. Secondly, what if someone asks you a question that you don’t know how to answer?

That’s a lost evangelism opportunity.

Wallace has on his website, forensicfaithbook.com, a test to check your readiness. A stress test with seven common questions and objections offered by skeptics. You have 21 minutes to complete it. The test is at http://forensicfaithbook.com/can-you-pass-the-test/ with his instructions and analysis.

The questions are:

  1. Why are you a Christian?
  2. What evidence do you have to believe that God exists?
  3. Why do you trust what the Bible says about Jesus?
  4. Why would God send people to hell just because they don’t believe in Jesus?
  5. If God is All-Loving and All-Powerful, why is there so much evil in the world?
  6. If God is the creator, who created God?
  7. Why would a loving God command the total destruction of all of Israel’s enemies?

I finished in 20 minutes. But I didn’t get to flesh out my responses as much as I could due to the time limit. Some I struggled with.

Don’t panic, they’re not unanswerable. Wallace has links to his answers on the page above. The Simplified Systematic Theology series is working through them. We just finished the Doctrine of the Bible, and are on the Doctrine of God now. A one-stop shop for it all is Dr. Geisler’s book, The Big Book of Christian Apologetics; An A to Z Guide.

My question is, are you ready?