To Doubt or Not To Doubt

The biggest doubts that critics have of Christianity revolve predominately around the virgin birth of Jesus, His crucifixion and His resurrection from the dead. These three aspects among others come under the magnifying glass and get scrutinised the minute Christianity is mentioned anywhere and in any setting. In fact, it is these very aspects that set apart Christianity from other faiths but it also these very things that sometimes could create doubt and disbelief in people’s hearts and minds and distance them from God.

Can a Christian who is devoted and committed to the faith still have genuine doubts? Is there anything like healthy or good doubt? Can doubt lead to faith in God or does it lead one away from Him? Doubt is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, Christianity is one faith that doesn’t silence doubt or ignore it altogether. Being a historical religion, its stated facts as written in the Bible, routinely open themselves up for careful examination and scrutiny. Over the millennia, any doubts when surfaced were responded to carefully and meticulously by proponents of the faith and Christianity has managed to silence its critics with overwhelming clarity and accuracy. As a result of this many doubters became declarers of the faith. So, doubt has some credence and value provided the doubt leads to a careful investigation of the facts and hopefully then leads to faith and belief in God.

However, the connection between doubt and faith is worth considering. Let’s take this back to the time of when Jesus was on earth. Jesus himself had doubting followers and these were the ones who followed him practically everywhere for about 3.5 years. Jesus allowed them to voice their doubts yet He always tackled the problem of doubt that surfaced in their minds. Jesus didn’t allow doubt to fester for too long and turn to disbelief; rather He consistently and strategically turned it around to a stronger faith in Him.

Doubt is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, Christianity is one faith that doesn’t silence doubt or ignore it altogether. Being a historical religion, its stated facts as written in the Bible, routinely open themselves up for careful examination and scrutiny.

When Peter took some steps towards Jesus as he stepped out of the boat, yet faltered looking at the wind and the storm, the encouragement he received from the Master was ‘O you of little faith, Why did you doubt?’. Peter doubted Jesus’ capability to save him but was urged to grow his faith and remove doubt from his mind and heart. Jesus would teach often that if one had faith and not doubt, then one can say to the mountain to be uprooted and thrown into the sea and that would be done (Mt 21:21).

The scriptures in Mt 28:96-17 tell us that the disciples after Jesus’ resurrection were gathered around Jesus and some worshipped Him, whilst other doubted. In Luke 24:38, the Gospel writer reports that when Jesus appeared among his disciples, some were troubled and others had doubts in their heart. However, Jesus allayed their fears by inviting them to ‘examine him’ and ‘touch and see’ his hands and feet. He opened their minds to the scriptures concerning himself thereby removing any doubt or confusion, and then entrusted them with the Great Commission. Thomas, another of his disciples, who was not physically present when Jesus came to his disciples after the resurrection, vehemently expressed his doubts about the resurrection (Jn 20:24-29). He wanted to see the marks of the nails and place his finger into the nail pierced areas. Jesus invited him to examine his wounds and then said to him “Do not disbelieve, but believe”. Thomas’ spiritual eyes were opened and he exclaimed “My Lord and My God” which was his declaration of faith and allegiance to Jesus. Thomas eventually died as a martyr upholding that same declaration of faith that he professed in Christ. In Thomas’ life and in the lives of countless others, doubt resulted in deep-seated worship and an undying commitment to the Master’s cause.

Jesus would inevitably always juxtapose faith against doubt and show that faith has the upper hand in every instance. Whilst it may appear that doubt defeats faith, in reality it is faith that topples doubt and that too for all of eternity. When we allow doubt to remain and create a hindrance to faith, we are like what James calls in James 1:6 as a wave in the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. But the one who has faith without doubt, will ask and receive wisdom from God. Let’s truly be those people who respond to doubt with faith and then declare that without fear and with God-given wisdom

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