Church @ 6 – Facing Your Doubts Part 2
Part II of Questions from April 24, 2016
When I’m looking for direction from God, how do I prevent myself from doubting that God is speaking to me or “giving me a sign”? Sometimes I wish it was as easy as feeling the wounds on his hands or feeling the dew on the fleece. Something concrete. I know the problem is my ability to understand God, but, I’m ashamed to say… sometimes I doubt that He hears me or that He cares.
In terms of doubting that God is speaking or giving a sign. Try telling some other believers about what He is speaking or showing you. Then act on it (depending if it aligns with Scripture and what your church community says). But we need to act.Jesus said to Thomas, ‘Blessed are those who believe yet who don’t see.’ Pastor Ian said, We don’t need the physical evidence to believe. The Scriptures provide us with eye witness accounts. We also hear/see Jesus continue to transform lives today as evidence that resurrection happened and continues to happen. Many who saw the miracles didn’t believe. So even with ‘concrete’ evidence they chose not to believe.Please don’t be ashamed to say sometimes you doubt whether He hears or cares. We’ve all been there and have felt those feelings. Christ on the cross felt forsaken by God… If you question whether God cares or listens to the world, I hope you can remember the cross of Christ. Jesus died because he loved us (John 3: 16).
Do you see that many of us are ill-prepared to intelligently converse with those who have very real/common/normal doubts? Perhaps there isn’t enough teaching to engage other’s worldview in our “post-christian culture”?
If it’s a fact-based conversation that is needed to help people face their doubts, there’s only so much we can do to make sure the church is well-prepared for these conversations. E-Free works hard to have Bible-based teaching, balanced with practical applications. We also add, when possible, the C.S. Lewis series, meant to teach people a bit of apologetics; a defence of the Christian faith and how to share it.
The other reality is that different teaching pastors at E-Free have different strengths. Some would teach the Bible with more theoretical/ideological approaches while others would push you towards practical goals for you as an individual, seeking to follow Jesus.
If you’re looking for resources beyond the sermons at E-Free to equip you for intelligent conversations and ways to confront doubt as Christians, or the doubts of your neighbours, the first recommendation I would make is to listen to Ravi Zacharias’ podcast found here. Need more? Feel free to ask for recommendations from Josh or Luke, or sit down for a visit with them and talk through the process of doubt and having doubt-filled conversations.
I was once told to “doubt my doubts”. That has never saw well with me and I wanted to disagree with that phrase. Would you agree to doubt your doubts, or is that a valid phrase to consider?
I’ve run into that same phrase to “doubt my doubts”. I think it points towards the hope of always being able to ask questions. We’re meant to question our questions, figure out where it’s coming from and trace them to a root cause. The reality is, that can send you into a process of ‘chasing your own tail’. So, it’s definitely a phrase to consider, but I’d actually try to add a community element to it and say, doubt your doubts with a group of people who can actually help you find some type of resolve.And, I guess, lastly, doubt your doubts where reasonable. Work to be able to accept that you have doubt and the need to exercise patience while they resolve themselves. It is a very real possibility that sometimes we just need to accept our doubts for what they are.
How long do we wrestle with this doubt?
See the above question. I think we (potentially) could wrestle with doubt for our entire life, if we felt like we had to. There is always that hope that doubts will resolve themselves or that we become a little more comfortable with small doubts with the perspective of the ‘bigger picture’ of life. That being said, wrestling with doubt may become the anti-thesis to faith and if you always feel like you have to actively engage doubt, are you really giving faith a chance?Does doubt always hit when we feel alone?I think maximize itself when you’re alone. When your mind is prone to wander and you feel disconnected or separate from your community (family, friends, neighbours), then doubt does seem to rise up.
So it is ok to doubt and ask God why? How far is too far with doubt then?
I believe it’s okay to talk to God, to doubt and ask why. These are essentials in processing faith. The Bible is full of stories that regularly exhibit a human response to God, in doubt, and God’s subsequent response.There is a point that goes too far when our entire interaction with God is just us peppering God with questions. We have to do a little bit of our own work. We have to work our faith out, by study, by spiritual disciplines, works to serve the poor, needy, orphan and widow. Society has convinced us that we must take a cerebral approach to everything before we are moved to action. I would contest that maybe, more often, we need to act and push beyond the doubts.
What about doubting the authenticity of the Bible? You can’t use the bible to prove the Bible.
I would push back fairly hard on the authenticity of the Bible. I’ve been processing on my own, sometimes, literal understanding of the Bible. This is what I have realized. The Bible is a reliable telling of several people’s interactions with God. It was often writing and authored close enough to the actual events that the facts in the Bible (ie. the apostles’ accounts of Jesus life) could have easily been disputed by other eye witnesses if the events weren’t actually portrayed.It’s also very important to know that the Christian church does have a reliable source document, in the original language, that educates all our other translations. There is always room for interpretation between translators and readers, but, at it’s core, the Bible is the Word of God, relayed through the words of human authors. Here is the Evangelical Free Church of Canada’s definition for the Bible.
“God’s gospel is authoritatively revealed in the Scriptures. We believe that God has spoken in the Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments, through the words of human authors. As the verbally inspired Word of God, the Bible is without error in the original writings, the complete revelation of His will for salvation, and the ultimate authority by which every realm of human knowledge and endeavour should be judged. Therefore, it is to be believed in all that it teaches, obeyed in all that it requires, and trusted in all that it promises.”
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