Christians and doubt

Certainly for new and immature Christians, but shouldn’t Christians grow up and learn to trust their Father, learn about his faithfulness to others and trust him for themselves?

In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!
Hebrews 5:12

Biographies of faithful Christians make good reading, feed faith, build encouragement and help squelch doubt. Some are exciting!

1 Like

Excellent article, Phil. Thanks for sharing this.

This is a long thread and I didn’t read it all yet but I wanted to toss my $0.02 in unfiltered. Babies are dumped in the trash, children starve, people are tortured, abused and so on. Natural disasters occur, millions of people die each year due to the sheer lunacy of simply not having access to clean water. Pain and suffering is unfathomable at times. Cancer and a thousand other things seems cruel and horrendous. So much bad stuff happens its not difficult for doubts about God’s faithfulness to spring up. I wonder the exact opposite. How could anyone seeking God’s heart see such grotesque evil, things so contrary to the putative will and character of God and not have some doubts from time to time? How deep must that head be buried in the sand? For many of us there is no proof of God or Christianity. You seem to have found some for yourself (e.g. Maggy’s testimony) but for us that means intellectual doubts will ALWAYS be a reality. But our relationship with God should still be able to grow and while sometimes doubting, we turn to Him in the face of evil and ask as Jesus did, "My God my God why have you forsaken us? Biblically, a Psalm of lamentation is not sinful.

I always felt solidarity with Abraham. “Shall not the Lord of the earth do what is right?” Compare that to a dolty Noah building a boat with no resistance and immediately sacrificing animals after the flood amidst the bloating bodies littering a desolate landscape. Two wildly different characters.

We also had this discussion on the forum before about Gethsemane but I personally take comfort in Jesus’ fear and concern in the garden. Falling on the floor in distress multiple times, asking that the cup be taken from him. Not because of some blood magic because he would literally and nonsensically take on the sins of the world and the Father would literally not be able to look on him, but because he was mortal and afraid of what was to come next. But He was willing and followed the will of His Father. If He can have momentary doubts or reservations then I feel in good company.

The irony of this topic is that Jesus probably never said what is attributed to Him in John 10:28 and part of the book’s purpose is probably meant to comfort a doubting or suffering /persecuted community. Its not meant to blame them for their doubt. The Jews were largely rejecting Jesus and Christians were marginalized and probably oppressed in some circles. These statements are meant to give hope and assurance to the community, not condemn them for their doubts. Do people with zero doubts need hope and assurance? I would tend to think not.

Vinnie

3 Likes

I doubt that. ; - )
 
      The Christian’s Confidence

Looks like a very nice OSAS proof-text hunting list. How about listing the verses supporting the opposite position now? All those warnings in scripture that have to lose their sting and be watered down as just God going through the motions. You don’t have to look both ways before crossing a street if traffic didn’t exist.

And what to do with all the high language election stuff in the Bible is part of the problem for some of us. Reassuring in one sense but alarming in another.

Vinnie

good thoughts. how do you answer the question why does God allow suffering and evil in the world? For me personally, the problem of evil is the most important source of doubt. Thanks

1 Like

Sounds like a very nice and typical rebirthing (as in born again) denialist’s response. ; - )
 

It looks like you missed this discussion last year…

 
…but you did reply in this one:

I’m sorry you do not have a Father you can count on.

When I taught through Hebrews a few years back I never felt the need to water down the warnings or rob them of their sting. The purpose of a warning is to warn others away from a certain course. The “danger unstable cliff edge” sign is intended to stop people going near the cliff, heeding the warning shows it is effectual. The warnings in Hebrews are shown to be effectual, when Christians, empowered by the Spirit, heed the warnings. That is true whether one is Calvinist or Arminian, or none of the above.

The ultimate proof of whether one’s faith is genuine, after all, is not whether we prayed a pray once, walked an isle, or can repeat the Institutes verbatim, but if we are trusting in Christ as we take our final breath. And that is true whether one is a Calvinist or Arminian, or none of the above too:

We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end. (Hebrews 3:14 NIV2011)

So you believe what you like, but don’t believe for one second that people falling away from the faith doesn’t keep Calvinists up at night. We got questions for the man upstairs too, just different questions. Heck, maybe not that different. Some of us even have emotions… hard as that is to believe.

4 Likes

We all die, and from a strictly materialistic perspective, we’re just bags of meat, so what’s the big deal how or when anyone lives or dies? From a Christian’s perspective, even though I weep, I have to humbly trust that my Father is perfect in his justice. Last time I checked, that is synonymous with being fair.

Maybe we are talking past one another but from my perspective in the analogy, it’s impossible to actually fall off the cliff (salvation) for some. The warnings are just empty gestures as it’s all predestined. I’m not sure how a mature Adam or a tree with rings makes God out to be deceptive but this doesn’t.

Calvinists are just locked into bad intellectual presuppositions where the Bible is treated like a theological encyclopedia and its genre is misunderstood. The Bible contradicts itself over and over again on free will/election. Calvinism is akin to nihilism to me but Calvinists are certainly people created in the image of God.

Calvinists should be staying up late at night at the notion of a God who predestines people for eternal torment. I’d recommend seeking a mental health professional for anyone who doesn’t find that unsettling. It is contrary to the nature of Jesus and God as I understand them, which settles the issue for me. Thus, I’ll prioritize the scripture that says God desires all to be saved and emphasizes free will. I don’t take any language of election literally. All cultural idioms for how God was understood at the time. Just like I don’t think God is personally responsible every single time disaster befalls a city, despite what Amos says.

Vinnie

1 Like

The eye opener is understanding you deserve to go to hell.

I can respect people on both sides of the debate, and I like how Keener summarizes the warnings in Revelation irregardless of whether you are a Calvinist or an Arminian.

I don’t know how you get around revoking adoption and becoming unbirthed.
 

Continuing the discussion from Spinoff: Law vs. Grace?:

Well, I think that we can go too far the other way. I’ve met folks who were so Arminian that they were always on tenterhooks about whether they would lose their salvation or not. They wound up actually finding relief as Calvinists.

I think that Hebrew hyperbole has some role–and we all do see through a glass, darkly.
Thanks.

Maybe part of what we really understand about God controlling things is that we really don’t have that much control over things–and He knows that, and gives us grace.
Thanks.

3 Likes

While it’s not always so easy to tell from the outside, for the person who totally fails to follow Jesus, it means for the Calvinist they were not actually born again. And for the Arminian, they lost their salvation.

I seem to remember there is a close parallel between Hebrews 6 and the parable of the sower and the seeds. So these warnings are not for nothing.

But there are also some pretty incredible promises about how Jesus guarantees a better covenant. Once on a whim I looked up the commentary on Hebrews 9:7 and was surprised by what I found.

I can’t really answer that. Free will defense does at least intellectually explain moral evil even if we still have emotional concerns with it but I’ve never seen an explanation of natural evil I found convincing. I do envy the Christians who can blame all natural evil on the fall. I imagine a lot of them would be devastated to learn that cancer and the like are a part of God’s good creation and not the product of man’s sin. Ignorance is bliss in this case.

1 Like

I take Jesus at his word when he said “strive to enter.” So many people comfortable in their beliefs were turned away sad by Jesus. Sell all you have, let the dead bury the dead, etc. Jesus comforted the afflicted and afflicted the comfortable. I don’t like to be comfortable on account of that.

Vinnie

1 Like

Paul certainly taught about confidence, but confidence certainly does not equate to being ‘comfortable’. Just do a word search on ‘strive’ in the NT and see how many are associated with him. An athlete can be ‘comfortable’, secure and certain of his membership on the team, but he still strives!

We’ll since you clearly have such an exhaustive knowledge of Calvinism already, Vinnie, I don’t see what else we have to discuss.

The real eye opener to me is that nobody deserves eternal conscious torment in hell. That is just debasing and victimizing God’s children because theological presuppositions and an over literal view of Scripture has forced a person to believe that. Regardless of how “bad” you are, infinite punishment for finite crimes is absurdly unethical. No one deserves hell anymore than they deserve eternal bliss in heaven.

Sometimes theology gets too removed from common sense and a practical understanding of good vs evil, crime vs punishment and reality. I am saved by God’s grace but I reject that boogeyman version of hell meant to scare people. And I a Calvinistic framework how can anyone predestined for hell deserve it? If they deserve in what sense are they predestined? It’s mincing words because the concepts are mutually exclusive and incoherent. Sometimes we need to get off the head of the pin with the dancing angels and come back down through the clouds and take a deep look at reality and let that influence scripture consciously even as it does so unconsciously for all of us.

Vinnie

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

This is a place for gracious dialogue about science and faith. Please read our FAQ/Guidelines before posting.