Doubt: The Darker Side of Faith
- Monday, March 05, 2012
And no wonder college is a time of doubt for many students. College is a chance to explore new ideas, new models of reality.  To fully explore this terrain, a measure of open mindedness really is necessary. Also, any time a person learns a new skill, a season of awkwardness goes along with the new skill. However, as one practices that skill, the awkwardness fades. It is the same with the life of the mind. Exploring non-Christian models of reality will be awkward, painful, and even doubt-inducing. But as one continues to think critically, he is able to sort the wheat from the chaff.
Next, know some smart Christians. A common argument against Christian faith is that its adherents are idiots. Admittedly, some are. However, there are also a number of intelligent people who believe the resurrection of Christ actually happened. Some of these include Ravi Zacharias, William Lane Craig, J.P. Morgan, Peter Kreeft, C.S. Lewis, and others. But what makes this argument even more impressive is that not all who believe in Christ's resurrection agree on other details, like creationism. I think this actually underscores the resurrection’s believability. Why? Because people who may disagree on certain points of Biblical interpretation do agree with the fact of the resurrection. Notable scientific thinkers include Francis Collins  and John Polkinghorne. 
For some readers, these authors will provide new models of reality. These models will comfort some, and they will make others uncomfortable. That is to be expected. But there is an advantage of reading through the work of intelligent believers who have navigated paths through sometimes threatening non-Christian models of reality. How so? The Christian thinkers have already done the hard work of clearing a path. Those of us who follow behind may still find some places difficult to trod, but on other parts of the journey we may simply enjoy the view.
And know that you are in good company. A number of Biblical heroes had their own struggles with doubt  as well as the sometimes infamous disciple Thomas. And this brings us full circle, back to the beginning of the article. I take comfort knowing that other believers have asked similar questions. And if my first assertion is correct that doubt is one of the ways we learn about the world around us as we grow, then of course a growing believer will have doubts. Take heart, your doubts are a sign of your willingness to grow.
Here is an application for church leaders: I encourage pastors to make the congregation aware of others who have journeyed through doubt’s sometimes-dark valleys. Rather than ostracizing sometimes-doubting Christ followers for not having enough faith, please have the foresight to congratulate their intellectual honesty, and let them be a sounding board for others who are asking difficult questions. And when someone comes to you with a question you can’t easily answer, then please, for the love of genuine growth, do not answer “You just need faith.”
Bruce, F.F. The New Testament Document: Are They Reliable? Since the New Testament is our primary source for the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, their reliability is crucial. Bruce defends the New Testament’s veracity in about 120 pages.
Lewis, C.S. Mere Christianity. In this book, Lewis attempts to present basic Christian beliefs to a non-Christian Britain. That means he can’t take Christian beliefs for granted. Lewis demonstrates a more objective approach to faith.
McGrath, Allister. The Passionate Intellect. McGrath collects a variety of arguments for Christian faith, none of them are particularly new, but he does provide a good single-volume resource for basic apologetics.
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