dealing with doubt


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A book written to help people who think doubt is a problem when it comes to biblical belief.

Doubt of various sorts is portrayed somewhat regularly in the New Testament, both in narrative and doctrinal texts. No fewer than seven Greek terms speak of some aspect of the issue with diakrino being used most frequently, often indicating uncertainty or hesitation between believing and not doing so.1 For our present purposes, I will define doubt more specifically as a lack of certainty concerning the teachings of Christianity or one's personal relation to them.

Doubts concerning the ideas or persons most important to us might be called an almost universal fact of life. One could well question how many Christians have not doubted, at least at certain times in their lives.2 Based on numerous analyses of human behavior, scholars have noted that doubt of various types is a constant companion throughout life and is common to human experience. Speaking specifically of religious uncertainty, one researcher remarks: "We come into the world with question marks in our heads . . . . The question marks in our heads are never fully erased."3 And lest someone think that non-religious persons are different, C. S. Lewis' personal comment is very instructive here:

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 in which Christianity looked terribly probable.4

Uncertainty is common to human existence, but dealing with it is complicated both by the fact that there are different species of doubt and because each of the types frequently involve more than just that one area. Thus, there is a tendency for doubt to "spill over" into other elements of human experience. Theoretically, the fact that persons are whole rather than fragmented argues that various doubts involve the entire person to some extent. Practically, one usually notes that such is often the case; doubts overlap and more than one type is frequently present. Yet, proper identification of the primary form is still a major step in the healing process.