Good Doubt

Intro

A lot of times the advice we get when it comes to any doubt we might feel consists of getting rid of it or acting like it isn’t there. Power Through! Stand Firm! Don’t Get Distracted! Stay on Target! And that’s all well and good, but is there ever any value to doubt? Is there ever anything to be gained from having questions, exploring your misgiving, and considering whether or not you have made the right decisions? Absolutely! It’s not only valuable, it is vital! Keep reading to find out what I mean…

Story

I know this will date me, but I went to college the year that the book The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown came out. The world, and more specifically the Christian community, was in an uproar! People were scandalized and offended. They were troubled deeply and found his imaginings that Jesus might have been married and had children perverse and heretical!

Okay, not everyone was that extreme, but I’m sure you remember hearing that some people got that worked up! Add to that the fact that I was taking classes with certain professors who enjoyed goading their young students and forcing them to defend and articulate their beliefs. I particularly remember an honors class I took that was an intense study of the book of Genesis. And it wasn’t all Adam did this and Eve did that.

I know this will date me, but I went to college the year that the book The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown came out. The world, and more specifically the Christian community, was in an uproar! People were scandalized and offended. They were troubled deeply and found his imaginings that Jesus might have been married and had children perverse and heretical!

Okay, not everyone was that extreme, but I’m sure you remember hearing that some people got that worked up! Add to that the fact that I was taking classes with certain professors who enjoyed goading their young students and forcing them to defend and articulate their beliefs. I particularly remember an honors class I took that was an intense study of the book of Genesis. And it wasn’t all Adam did this and Eve did that.

We looked at Genesis from every possible angle – a historical account, a writing by Moses and how it compared to his other books, a creation myth paralleled with others from that time period, a traditional Hebrew poem; we even investigated the words used for Adam or snake and what things might be symbolic and what was to be taken literally. Talk about doubt! That class was not easy.

The things we were discussing weren’t easy to deal with all the time either. Some stuff really shook me up. I had never realized how similar the Bible’s creation story was to the Egyptian myth! I never knew that the word Adam in Hebrew was different before and after the creation of Eve. What did all this mean?

I know that some of my friends found all of this chaos overwhelming and uncomfortable. And it’s not like it was a walk in the park for me either, but I have a natural disposition to like things that tend to really tick other people off. Ever since I was little, I liked pushing the envelope, exploring taboo subjects, really just breaking the rules. So all of these crazy ideas and theories that college, and the world, threw at me freshmen year, really lit a fire inside of me. I was inspired! I read so many books, sought out conversations with professors and students, watched interviews and more.

The doubt that I was interacting with was motivation for me to learn more, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t struggle with it. I found myself halfway through my first year at college and away from home deeply questioning my belief in God and all the things I grew up just accepting and believing. With all the big complex questions thrown at me during my freshmen year – like Jesus’ possible marriage, homosexuality, women being ordained, free will vs. predestination, and more – I had doubt seeping into every aspect of my faith.

Like I said, I love it – 90% of the time. When I realized how shaky my belief in Jesus Christ as my Savior had become, I knew I needed some help. Through the advice of my family and some close friends, I took what I believed in back to basics, which for me is the Apostles’ Creed. It’s a statement of faith agreed upon by Christian denominations as the essential beliefs of a follower of Christ despite all their other disagreements. Throughout the years I have continued to enjoy the amazing things good doubt can bring into my life; but that creed is my foundation in the Lord, and I keep my feet firmly planted on it while I do my best to figure out the rest.

It goes like this:

 

I believe in God the Father Almighty,

creator of heaven and earth;

And in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.

He was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary,

He suffered under Pontius Pilate

Was crucified, died and was buried.

He descended into hell.

On the third day he rose again

And ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God

the Father Almighty.

From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,

The holy universal church,

The communion of saints,

The forgiveness of sins,

The resurrection of the body,

And the life everlasting.

Amen.

Bible intro

Diving into doubt can be an exciting adventure, or maybe it scares you half to death! However you feel, always keep your feet firmly planted in the Holy Scriptures and your heart centered on uncovering God’s truth. He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. He knows everything because he created everything. In fact, God created this world specifically and intentionally. He designed it to be discovered because he created us to be fulfilled and inspired by discovery! That’s so amazing! So as you start questioning and exploring, keep this passage in your mind and your heart.

Personal Questions
1. Can you think of a time when someone or something brought a doubt into your life that just shook everything up? What was it?
2. How did you react to it at the time? Would you do it any differently now in your life?
3. If doubt can be good and God created the world for us to question and explore, what are some ways you can investigate while still being safe?
4. Do you think it’s ever dangerous to question things? How do you decide which things shouldn’t be questioned?
5. I know a professor who is fond of saying, “It’s not people who ask questions that bother me, it’s people who have stopped asking questions that concern me!” What do you think he means by that?
Prayer

Father God, this is exciting! And kind of freaky. It’s weird to think about all the things out there that we just don’t know for sure! I want to find out what you have to say about them. I want to use this doubt to better understand you and your creation. Help me to be wise. Speak to me clearly when I need and it and please help me keep you at the center or everything I do. Amen.

411

Here is an article about Greg Boyd’s book Benefit of the Doubt: Breaking the Idol of Certainty. Even if you don’t go on to read the book, this article has some great stuff to say about why doubt can be helpful and even necessary to a mature and growing faith.
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2013/10/07/benefit-of-the-doubt/

Challenge

Go back to that list you made of all your questions or areas of the world you want to learn more about. Pick your 2 or 3 top ones and plan out some real steps to learn more about them – look up books, find documentaries, find someone who knows more about that subject. I would encourage you to take an issue per week and make sure to include a youth leader, parent, or pastor in this process. Just as in all things, it’s wise to have older Christians included in our growth. It not only gives us some guidance and accountability, but they may have resources and ideas we haven’t thought of on our own!

Quizical

Here’s a quiz about some of the miracles that Jesus performed during his time on earth. See how you do! If you want to know more about those miracles, the book of Mark is a great place to start.

http://www.christianbiblereference.org/cgi-bin/web_quiz1.pl?miracles.txt&0

Good Doubt 1

Good Doubt 2

Good Doubt 3

Good Doubt 4

Good Doubt 5

Scripture

Romans 8:1 - If your foundation is faith and your doubt is not causing you to disobey God, then questions and exploration can be a wonderful, life changing experience!

Romans 12:1-2 - A reminder that God is at the center of all of our discoveries and revelations. Keep your heart open to his guidance and always use the scripture to find truth.

Hebrews 11:3 - Whether you are passionate about science or art, always remember that God created it all for you to discover and, through that, for you to know him better!

Proverbs 3:3-6 - When it comes to addressing some of the bigger questions, we have to realize that we may never fully understand or have peace about them. It’s important with those things to continue relying on God.

Video

Watch this clip from The Exorcism of Emily Rose. It might not be a perfect example of good doubt but it does show how there is so much more in this world then we can fit into nice neat little boxes. We should never be so arrogant as to think that we (or our generation) has a complete grasp on all the different aspects of creation and the Creator. 

This video is from the movie Barabbas and it’s awesome! Pontius Pilate tried to free Jesus before his execution by offering the Israelites a choice between him and Barabbas, a murderer. The crowd screamed for Barabbas to be freed and Jesus to be crucified. This movie is an imaginative story of what happened to Barabbas after being freed. It’s a great story that many years down the road shows how he finally understood just who this Jesus was. This clip in particular is right after Jesus rose from the dead and Barabbas, filled with doubt, goes to the disciples looking for answers. Pay attention to how Peter only plants more doubt in Barabbas’ mind, because he knows the wonderful places God can lead us when we begin to question what we think we know. 

Life Questions
1. Take some time and write down every single question you have (big or small) that you would like to look into more. Now spend time today and the rest of the week talking with God about each of these. Be sure to listen and be open to what he wants to show you.
2. Before you start researching and investigating these different areas of doubt, identify three trustworthy Christian people in your life that you would feel comfortable sharing some of these things with. Set up a time to talk with them and let them know what you are planning to start exploring and ask them to help keep you accountable. It’s important you have a buddy to make sure you are keeping your feet on the foundation of Christ and his Scripture.
Lol

Take a few minutes to giggle at these dogs who experience great doubt about their safety when it comes to walking past cats. Gotta say, I feel their pain but it sure is funny to watch!