Guinness notes that the attempt to make doubt into unbelief is a contradiction in terms because it appears to make one's questioning choose sides (in this case unbelief) when doubt in its very essence remains between two positions. 15 Barth is in agreement at this juncture, asserting that "doubt does not mean denial or negation. Doubt only means swaying and staggering between Yes and. It is only an uncertainty."16 Littleton concurs: But doubt is not the opposite of faith. Doubt suggests that there is a lack of faith somewhere, but a person can doubt and still have a perfectly sound trust in God. Doubt is rather a state of uncertainty, a spiritual fork in our road.17 But for many Christians who might raise this second objection, there is a more important consideration than the issue of definitions. The question of what Scripture teaches is crucial here and it also supports the view that true believers can experience doubt. In both the Old and New Testaments, believers clearly express wide ranges of questioning, especially on such topics as pain and evil, god's personal dealing with His people and the issue of evidence for one's belief.
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But when other matters of uncertainty are also counted, such as questions pertaining to unanswered prayer, or why Christians suffer, or theoretical questions about the faith, day or mood-related issues, i think it is plain that few (if any) Christians completely escape the far-reaching claws. Although by no means constituting scientific surveys, when I question my large introduction to philosophy classes I regularly find that about 70-90 of all of these hundreds of students are even willing to publicly admit that they have experienced doubt in some form. At any rate, it should be apparent that the attitude that doubt is uncommon among Christians misses the mark. Especially when the many faces of doubt are remembered, it would appear to be futile to deny the problem. In fact, there seem to be good reasons to hold that doubt may be one of the most widespread problems among Christians today. This provides all the more reason to attempt to solve the dilemma. True believers never Experience doubt Some assert that real believers never doubt, since doubt is said to be the opposite of faith. It should help us at this point to remember our opening definition, for while it is true that uncertainty affects faith, they are not opposites. The counterpart of belief is unbelief, while we have seen that doubt might be described as hesitation between two positions. So initially it must be pointed out that, at least by definition, there is nothing which keeps true believers from struggling with uncertainty or nothing which causes doubt to contradict faith. It is true that doubt may progress to where it may challenge one's very faith, but the failure to believe is unbelief or disbelief, not doubt.
Mark littleton answers the question by saying that, "Doubt hangs its hat on all Christians. None can honestly say they've escaped."6 John guest holds that all Christians were once agnostic in that they moved from unbelief to belief. Some Christians remain in a semi-agnostic condition even after salvation.7 Stephen board thinks that there may at least be some truth to the saying that unless a person has never doubted, he has never truly believed. In this sense, the Christian's intellectual struggle can produce one's deepest convictions.8. More technical writers also agree, such as Karl Barth's statements that all Christians struggle with doubt. Speaking of a character trait which causes such uncertainty, he states that "no Christian (and likewise no theologian) can altogether rid himself of this flaw."9 Later, he points out that "No theologian. Should have any doubts that for some reason or other he is also a doubter."10 Interestingly, barth also muses at how easy it is to question God's existence on occasion, even when one knows shmoop better.11 Clark pinnock adds: "I know what it is to doubt. And I suspect that every Christian who takes the time to think seriously about his faith does so, too."12 Later he warns the new believer to expect to experience the same problem.13 In terms of popular statistics, bill Bright writes that of the tens.
Christian doubt is Uncommon, if one works very long with doubting Christians, one may get the strong impression that many believers who have experienced uncertainty seem to think that they are a distinct minority. Similarly, one is frequently impressed that believers often do not wish to admit the presence of such doubt, a view which probably contributes much to the continuance of the mistaken notion that they are alone in this problem. It was mentioned above that there is some reason to believe that doubt of various kinds is an almost universal fact of human existence. Os guinness asserts, "It is not primarily a christian problem, but a human problem. The root of doubt is not in our faith but in our humanness."5. So how common is Christian doubt? The "humanness" of the phenomenon would suggest that it still is a very regular problem. Several popular treatments make this point clearly.
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Second and somewhat related, i am not qualified to offer any psychiatric or psychological counseling and my comments should not be construed as attempting to do this. My purpose is to deal with the phenomenon of doubt and while this frequently involves such conditions as depression, anxiety or medical factors, it must be understood that i am only qualified to offer advice concerning such healing of various forms of Christian uncertainty, not. I would recommend that the latter be dealt with by a christian professional in that area. But at any rate, the treating of these last issues is not within my expertise. It is this last issue of healing that is the primary concern in this treatment. Theory will certainly be presented and is crucial among at several important junctures.
But it is my chief desire that Christians will be better informed and able to both deal with their own times of doubt and those of other believers. Common Misconceptions Concerning Christian doubt. Doubt is very frequently viewed by Christians in a negative light. One common attitude is that relatively few believers have this problem (and those who do usually keep quiet about it). It is often charged that true believers never doubt at all or that being uncertain of one's beliefs is always bad and cannot produce any positive results. These and other misconceptions appear to be fairly widespread.
While factual doubt may require the expertise of the apologist or philosopher, emotional and mood-related doubt will have more to do with the psychologist, psychiatrist or counselor. Questions pertaining to the will are perhaps best addressed by theologians. And the more that I deal with the subject, the more i recognize that sociological, anthropological and educational insights are examples of other areas which are also crucial at various points. So there are certainly elements of doubt which require a multidimensional effort. Accordingly, two important disclaimers need to be offered at this point so the reader can be sure not to misjudge the present product.
First, while i am more confident in dealing with areas having to do with apologetics, philosophy or philosophical theology, i am far from being an expert in psychiatry, psychology or counseling. Here i must rely on my own study and interaction with professionals in the other disciplines. And addressing an audience which involves persons who are trained in these areas, i can only admit my lack of expertise and open myself to the observations of others. However, at the same time, if the subject is to be approached by a single individual at all, it will almost assuredly be a person who cannot deal in an expert way with all of these subjects and specializations. So i will go on record by saying that, while my own training is in the areas just identified above, i will at least endeavor to address the others for the sake of attempting to minister to hurting people. It is this need to be practical that motivates me to write on a subject which could possibly be the single most common problem among Christians. So if i err in my conclusions, i humbly ask your forgiveness and invite your comments.
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Lewis' personal comment is very instructive here: Now that i business 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 writers 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. Consequently, dealing with doubt is an interdisciplinary undertaking.
This may refer both to those who read the book themselves and to those who use some of the ideas to help others with doubts. To this end, this book is written to Christians and so will not attempt to argue for the truth of Christianity, although endnotes will frequently list some relevant sources which do a commendable job of introducing the reader to the area of apologetics. Definition and Nature of the Problem. Doubt of various sorts is portrayed somewhat regularly in the new Testament, both in narrative and doctrinal green 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.1 For our present purposes, i will define doubt more specifically as a lack of certainty. 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,.
those involved in these and other discussions on this topic, the issue of doubt and its resolution is one with which many Christians struggle. It is my hope that this volume will be especially helpful for those who are either working through such uncertainty themselves or who are assisting others in such a process. Habermas, oxford, England, chapter. Introduction: Some Crucial Groundwork, doubt, manifested in many forms from the assurance of one's salvation to factual questioning, is certainly one of the most frequent and painful problems which plague christians. These studies propose to deal, successively, with the general topic of doubt as experienced by believers, and then, chiefly, with practical suggestions for the possible resolution of each of three prominent types of doubt. Afterwards, we will examine several pertinent issues which might potentially be of further assistance to persons experiencing such uncertainty. Although we will discuss some theoretical issues, our chief purpose is, through the usage of practical language and suggestions, to concentrate on the healing of believers who struggle with doubts.
Preface, the opportunity to write this manuscript came chiefly as the result of two extended speaking engagements. The bulk of the material was written to complement the Spring Lectureship which I presented at Western life (Conservative baptist) Seminary in Portland, Oregon. Those lectures, entitled "Christian doubt: Toward Resolving a painful Problem comprised most of Sections i and ii of this volume. The remainder of the manuscript (Section iii, in particular) was completed during a lectureship in an adjunct study program at Wycliffe hall, Oxford, England. One of the lectures there was similarly devoted to the subject of doubt. I benefited personally from my interaction with those from both groups during this lecturing and writing. The week at Western Seminary, at the invitation of Professor Gerry Breshears, provided an excellent time of interaction, including meetings with administration, faculty and students. The three weeks at Oxford provided an intensely personal setting for the integration of living and learning.
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Habermas, with an Appendix by ronald. Originally published by moody Press: Chicago (1990). This is an electronic copy of you the entire book. Table of Contents: Preface, introduction: Some Crucial Groundwork, identifying doubt, factual doubt. Emotional doubt, volitional doubt, when God does Not Answer, jesus As a living Person. The testimony of the holy Spirit. Heaven: a new Perspective on Life. Conclusion, appendix: developmental Theory and doubt (by ronald.