Christians and doubt

Sort of like a young philosopher looking at an old physicist who says space is not infinitely divisible.

All over the forum we have first hand accounts/testimonies/confessions (some quite anguished) of doubt regarding many different things of faith: the existence of God, what God is like, God’s intervention in any aspect of the universe, how we can know anything about God, salvation, how we live rightly, and on and on.

Why are we not respectful enough to accept these testimonies of anguish, fear, worry as unsought, unwanted burdens in their very trying journeys, I wonder?

Why are we not respectful enough to take them at their word, when they say, “That thing you offered just isn’t helping, whether you’re convinced it should or not.” And rather blaming them, listen to find out what they are looking for. I wonder.



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Why did I cite Keller about his parishioner, Laura Story’s lyrics and George Herbert’s verse?

Another verse for us all to keep in the front of our minds:

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can know it?
Jeremiah 17:9

Again I would like to commend Ann Voskamp’s book to all, because anguish is exactly where it came from. 

ETA: It specifically deals with depression.

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I know I have upset some folks here, but maybe we need to be upset sometimes in our pursuit of truth – it’s happened before.

From Fishcher’s chapter on “science and faith”

…while scientifically inclined atheists and scientifically antagonistic believers disagree about whether or not God is dead, they tend to agree on a basic premise that serves as the flawed foundation for the whole conversation: either God does something or nature does something.

From chapter 9, where Fischer sets his sites on what he identifies as the most dangerous bugabear …

Fundamentalism and science pose gravely unnecessary threats to modern Christianity. But the gravest threat to modern Christianity is neither fundamentalism nor science, but stuff. For all intents and purposes, stuff is the new religion, which brings me to the story of a sly, shrewd demon named Mammon.

We like to think of ourselves as “brains-on-a-stick.” We calmly, coolly, rationally think our way through the world, come to the appropriate conclusions, and then choose appropriately. Our behaviors and desires are the result of a clean, rational process. We think our way to what we should want. We move from reason to desire–we reason our way to what is true and good and beautiful, and then act and desire accordingly. All of this is true except when it’s not, which happens to be most of the time because humans are not the thinkers we think we are. We are lovers before we are thinkers.

Happy father’s day everyone!


I don’t think you have really addressed it yet (or its accompanying question).

The heart wants what the heart wants. The taste buds want what they want and sometimes that conflicts with what we want in the way of health and fitness. Our wants can and do genuinely conflict at times. Frequently even.


Ahh! I had to look back to remind myself what ‘question’ was still in play. I was just happily putting Fischer quotes out there.

Okay … so … “the question.” What is the chief end of man? With the answer given that it is to glorify God by enjoying him forever. And you want to know if Fischer’s book comports with this?

All I can say is that his book isn’t about that - which is to say: I have no reason to think he would dispute that specific answer to that question. But his book is engaging with questions that might perhaps be said to precede your question here. I.e. If he’s struggling with the importance of faith - as in faith that there even is a God, and what kind of place or certitude of that faith should we seek and how. His book doesn’t want to just glibly slide by those questions like so many Christians otherwise would who would be eager to press on past all that to all the followup “…so then what” practical kinds of things.

Let’s just say as an overall characterization of Fischer’s book “Faith in the Shadows”, I would not call it so much a “How can we shore up confidence in our faith, and do the whole apologetic ‘evidence that demands a verdict’ tradition proud” kind of a book so much as it is a “What can I do if all that strong faith and apologetics has finally stopped working for me, so now I’m desperate” kind of a book. It’s more for the latter. You won’t be showing them anything they haven’t already read or been exposed to, Dale. They will have read all the McDowell and Stroebel apologetics stuff. They will have heard countless glowing and even miraculous testimonies. Been there. Done that. Still have the T-shirt. There is no, “Oh - but they haven’t yet heard this story from XYZ that I love to share!” Surely that will be the missing piece of their puzzle that, unlike all the other hordes of testimony they’ve already known about - this one will finally bring them the rational assurance to be victoriously confident so that we can bring this story before all our hapless atheistic friends who will finally be silenced by this and forced to concede they’ve been mistaken all along.

This book is not that. And nor would I be speaking glowingly of it if it was. Because while I’m ready to celebrate God’s hand in things along with anybody who is excited to share, I have no need to pretend that any of it is or will be some last word of argumentation to finally deliver all intellectual skeptics to some promise land once and for all. And it’s a good thing too, because Fischer has much bigger and more important fish in his frying pan. Come and enjoy some breakfast with Christ.


She maintains a website, with I think pretty much daily entries, plus encouragement and encouraging resources for those who are struggling. And if you are interested in improving your vocabulary, hers is astonishing (she writes in a poetic prose style).

But false certitude doesn’t result in strong faith

Maybe we are talking about legitimate certitude? Certitude enough to be martyred for. (Yeah, I know – you’re ready to kill me. XD )

I still hope to get to more of the search results in support of our knowing in the epistles, but in the meantime, scan this (again, for some): The Christian’s Confidence & Eternal Security, a list

“When [the Spirit] comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness”

Conviction is another form of knowing. I can understand the Christian who is doubtful about historical eyewitness testimony and the integrity of Scripture. It could be a 20 year journey for some.

“I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, children, because you know the Father.”

Happy Father’s Day

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I can now amend and clarify on my earlier response to this, Dale - thanks to Randy’s suggestion, I’ve now started in on an older book of Fischer’s: “Young, Restless, and No Longer Reformed”. And already in the foreward of that book (by Scot McKnight) I found this (which will give a more direct answer to your specific question). The following is McKnight’s voice:

I had been star-struck by Calvinist theologians and still was, but I found the exegesis less than compelling. Passage after passage convinced me that while the big picture – God’s glory in the face of Christ – was as good as our theology can get, the finer nuances just didn’t work with how the Bible frames the freedom of God’s love and human responsiveness. For a number of years I wandered between Calvinism and other options, eventually settling for what I sometimes call “Anabaptism with Anglican sensibilities.” I still read Calvin and Piper and Edwards, but with a hermeneutic of suspicion. I like their architecture, even if their furnishings need to be tossed into the garbage heap. I like the idea of God’s glory, but God’s love is the final end – not God’s glory.

Note the final sentence above. Or better yet, read McKnight’s entire foreword to get more context. You can click the ‘read preview button’ in the page linked to above which does allow you free access to the entire foreword and probably more.

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That is not at all antithetical to this that you have seen before:

So where is the issue?

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I should walk that back. It is antithetical to the “not God’s glory” part. There is no incompatibility between God’s love and God’s glory. There is no conflict whatsoever in that I wanted my dad to be respected and that I wanted his love (he wanted both too). Both can coexist and they in fact cannot be separated.

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The following was posted last month in another thread (it did not garner many comments, unsurprisingly), but if we are still if-ing we better start pleading and even prostrate pleading Keller’s parishioner’s prayer, “Come find me!!!”


*Objective outward experience is also possible and to be desired!

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