Lessons from My Father: Doubt
SEAN: Dad, do you ever have doubts about your faith? If so, what kinds?
JOSH: Yes, I’ve had doubts. I think that if you don’t doubt, you don’t grow. If you don’t doubt, you don’t learn. Because as Christians, we should constantly be learning new things all the time, then doubt can be a good thing. Yet every time we learn new things, new questions and challenges arise that we may not be able to answer. And some of these doubts tie directly to our walk with Christ. Our posture should like the man who came to Jesus and said, “I believe; help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24). We grow when we seek truth amidst doubt.
SEAN: How do you personally handle when you have doubts and questions?
JOSH: It really depends on what kind of doubt it is. People can doubt different kinds of doubts—apologetic, theological, moral and other. For me, I try to ask myself why I have the doubt. Have I done enough homework on this subject? Have I really studied the topic and come to an informed, balanced understanding? And second, I go to Scripture. Scripture can answer roughly 50% of my doubts. For the other issues, I might go to William Lane Craig, Ravi Zacharias, and other apologists. Personally speaking, I always go to my wife Dottie. She’s probably my greatest help.
SEAN: What are some poor ways people handle doubt?
JOSH: They become all consumed by it. It can become prideful. The moment you think you know it all, you’re going to stumble. And you may not even know it. Because the moment you think you need to know it all, you’re going to stumble. The moment you think you have it all figured out, God will bring someone smarter than you into your life to humble you. God has certainly done that in my life.
SEAN: Some people say doubt is the opposite of faith. Do you agree?
JOSH: Not necessarily. Doubt is a process of faith. Many people come to faith through doubts. And others, who already believe, sometimes experience doubts. Doubt can drive us to find deeper truth, but it is not necessarily the opposite of faith.
Sean McDowell, Ph.D. is a professor of Christian Apologetics at Biola University, a best-selling author of over 18 books, an internationally recognized speaker, and a part-time high school teacher. Follow him on Twitter: @sean_mcdowell and his blog: seanmcdowell.org.