We’re halfway through our Thursday Evening Bible Class on faith and doubt. If you’re free on Thursdays from 7:30 to 8:30, come on out to the seminary for a stimulating and practical discussion about what it means to believe in God. The first four weeks have examined objective doubts—how can I know that God exists, that Jesus is his Son, and the Bible is his Word. This week we turn the page and discuss subjective doubts—what does it mean to live by faith? How can I know that I’m saved? How can I find God’s will? (or as Gary Meadors would say, I didn’t know it was lost).
Yesterday as I was driving to church I had this thought which, I’m pretty sure I covered in my faith and doubt book, Despite Doubt: Embracing a Confident Faith, but I’m not sure if I expressed it quite like this. I’d be interested in your feedback.
Here’s the thought: Is it possible that all doubt arises from, or is at least accompanied by, our forgetfulness of our place in the world? All Christian thought begins with the ontological chasm between the infinite God and his finite creation. Because we know we are God’s limited creatures, we should expect to find many things that we cannot figure out. I suspect that people who feel swamped by doubt have forgotten their finitude and, not content with their limited ability, won’t rest until they have figured-it-all-out. But this is impossible, given their creaturely place, and so they despair and say they don’t know what to believe.
Much better to remember that we are only creatures, which means there is Someone who is far above our pay grade. This should comfort us in at least two ways. First, we should rejoice that there is Someone who is stronger and more knowledgeable than us. Aren’t you relieved to know the world doesn’t depend on you? Second, we are free not to know or solve everything. We are liberated to live with unresolved questions, for they are exactly what we should expect, given our finite, creaturely status.
Bottom line: doubts can drive us to despair if we think we must prove whatever we believe. Doubts can also confirm our faith, when we use them as reminders of our place in God’s world.