At BBC there is the all holy seminary reading room. It’s a humorous title, it’s just the seminary room. One day we were brought into this room. I do not remember which professor it was, but I do remember the warning:
“Many of the books in this room were written by men who knew more about the Bible then some of you ever will, but they missed the point.”
It perplexed me that many of the Bible study tools we have today were built on the work of those ho actually doubted the Bible or doubted inspiration and inerrancy. How can doubt produce coldness to God in once sense, and bring others closer? I don’t know, and hence I’m perplexed.
I do not think scholarship, reason or doubt is the enemy. I do not think giving up these things in the name of faith, pragmatism or focusing on what is most important is biblical. Let me give an analogy for each:
Faith: We sit in many chairs without seeing them first verifying they will hold us up. I say that as I sat in my kitchen chair one day and it collapsed underneath me.
Pragmatism: There is nothing pragmatic about romance. ‘Nuff said.
The biggest thing: Coffee brings me great joy in life, but it’s not the meaning of life. (Though, enjoying it does help ponder the larger things in life.)
Often in churches we get very nervous when someone questions or doubts. We get more nervous when someone declares their doubts. In our quest for Christ likeness, do we forget Thomas- one of the foundation stones to the church. Saul was a doubter. The Roman centurion was not. Is one better than the other? I think not.
The Bible has stories of doubters. I do not think doubt is the enemy of faith, but squelching doubt is. The trial by fire for each human is different. For some it will be life circumstance, others pride, addictions to some and some it will be doubt. People will succeed or fail in these challenges.
Truth is truth. If the Bible is fully truth, as I believe and I am convinced of, then in the end truth will prevail. And if we fear those who doubt, or worse question whether they are really saved in the first place, then we poison the situation. The Bible makes it very clear that salvation is solely a work of God and kept by God. The Bible makes very clear that humans will doubt.
Is our faith in God or in people who don’t doubt? Do we believe salvation is by faith or in people who do not sin? How we approach issues can prevent the ability to help or open the door to greater depths of our faith. Which is more important to us and God? Yes, God gets frustrated by doubt. God also gives them an answer in due time. The bigger issue is pursuing God.
The Bottom line:
Squelching doubt is an odd form of denying the power of God. Like any other challenge in life, we should treat doubters with love, patience and respect. Not from superiority and they are wrong, but a human understanding that each person has their own trial by fire… Let’s be honest, we all at times have doubts. God knows that.
“If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.” 2 Timothy 2:13