Doubt Topical Study

<p><span class="heading-sm"><strong><span class="heading-lg">Doubt in Scripture</span></strong></span></p><ul><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Matthew%C2%A014%3A28-31">Matthew&nbsp;14:28-31</a>, you of little faith</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Matthew%2021%3A21-22">Matthew 21:21-22</a>, whatever you ask for in prayer with faith, you will receive</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Matthew%2028%3A17">Matthew 28:17</a>, some doubted Jesus</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Luke%2024%3A37-43">Luke 24:37-43</a>, Jesus shows his hands and his sides</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/John%2020%3A27">John 20:27</a>, doubting Thomas</span></li><li><span style="font-size: 16px;"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/James%201%3A5-8">James 1:5-8</a>, ask for what you need in faith without doubt</span></li></ul><p><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><strong><span class="heading-lg">Reflections on Doubt</span></strong></span></p><p><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><strong><span class="heading-sm">Faith and Doubt</span></strong></span></p><p><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy">As you might predict, no one in the New Testament assails any and all doubt more forcefully than the always hard-hitting apostle James (cf. James 1:5-8). For his part, though, James&#39;s older brother, Jesus, seemed to go a little easier on his oft-doubting disciples and friends. True, Jesus regularly told the disciples not to doubt and wondered at times why they did let so many doubts creep into their minds. Still, he did not berate those who doubted their own eyes after the resurrection. For all we know, Jesus had a smile on his face when he confronted even &quot;Doubting Thomas&quot; a week after Easter. And even when Jesus was in the presence of both worshipful honor and dubious doubt as he gave the Great Commission in Matthew 28, Jesus did not on that occasion lash out at the doubters among the gathered group of disciples. True, if faith were as thick and substantial and firm as it could possibly be, then anyone with such faith could move mountains, Jesus said, and we can believe he meant it. Even so, Jesus never seemed overly surprised that no one did move mountains. In fact, if it&#39;s divine astonishment you are looking for in the gospels, Jesus expressed that mostly when he encountered strong faith!</span> </span></p><p><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><strong><span class="heading-sm">An Element of Faith?</span></strong></span></p><p><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy">The theologian Paul Tillich once asserted that doubt is not the opposite of faith but is in fact an element of faith. Faith&#39;s opposite would be agnosticism or outright atheism but not doubt. This is a doctrinal paradox, but that may not count against it in that Christian theology contains lots of fruitful paradoxes. A person who claims that he never doubts may be in some degree of denial. As many theologians have noted, a faith that is untouched by struggle, that never even pauses over Holocausts and cancers and pogroms of various kinds, may well be turning a blind eye to the most vexing questions ordinary people ask every day: Where is God? Why did God allow this or that to happen? Why do the evil prosper and the faithful suffer? &quot;Doubts are the ants in the pants of faith. They keep it awake and moving&quot; Frederick Buechner once wrote. Even where faith clearly has the upper hand in a person&#39;s life and is firm and solid and a source of tremendous comfort, there will be moments (and possibly now and then longer seasons) when doubts nag at the edges of faith, forcing the believer to ask hard questions but &mdash; like the psalms of lament &mdash; asking those questions of God.</span> </span></p><p><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="heading-sm"><strong>Faith, Hope, and Doubt</strong></span></span></p><p><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy">Faith, as given by the Spirit, knows many things. But it does not know them completely and does not possess the fullness of God&#39;s promises yet. That is why we hope for things, but hope would be unnecessary if we could see everything clearly now, as Paul pointed out. Where faith meets hope and where hope encounters the hard questions and circumstances of life in a still-broken world, an element of doubt is always possible, even where faith remains strong.</span></span></p><p><span style="font-size: 13.008px;">&nbsp;<span class="body-copy">&quot;Many of us have faith in God and yet we have doubts, too, and in the long run perhaps it is just as well that we have them. At least doubts prove that we are in touch with reality, with the things that threaten faith as well as with the things that nourish it. If we are not in touch with reality, then our faith is apt to be blind, fragile, and irrelevant.&quot;</span>&nbsp;<em>(</em></span><em>The Longing for Home</em>, Harper Collins, 1996, p. 169)</p><p><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy">&quot;It&#39;s likely that at the end of their lives, Abraham, Sarah, the disciples, and Paul would all have agreed that receiving God&#39;s grace was the best thing that could have ever happened to them. There are plenty of indications, though, that along the way they had their doubts. Since most of life is lived along the way, we spend most of our time wondering what is so gracious about the grace we have received. It is a good question because it tells the truth and telling the truth always leads us back to Jesus.&quot;</span>&nbsp;<span class="body-copy-sm">(<em>Yearning: Living Between How It Is and How It Ought to Be</em>, IVP Books, 1992, p. 29)</span></span></p>