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Featured Is God doubt-tolerant?

Discussion in 'General Theology' started by Hmmm!, Aug 2, 2020.

  1. Hmmm!

    Hmmm! Member

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    I don't think "doubt-tolerant" is an actual word but it's a word writer Philip Yancey used in an interview I've just read that he gave on the subject of faith and doubt.

    In the interview he said that he often challenges students to find a single argument against God in the older agnostics (Bertrand Russell, Voltaire, David Hume) or the newer ones (Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris) that is not already included in books like Psalms, Job, Habakkuk, and Lamentations and how he has respect for a God who not only gives us the freedom to reject him, but also includes the arguments we can use in the Bible.

    My first experience of church was that asking questions was tantamount to a sin and I was basically told just to believe. I left in a state of some disgrace and this put me off church for some years until I decided to try a different church where I had a better experience.

    I wonder what you think about doubt. Do you regard it as a weakness or even a strength? It seems to me that doubt and faith go hand-in-hand. The apostles and people who witnessed the risen Christ are the only people who know for certain that Jesus rose again (or didn't and it's all a hoax) but the rest of us are simply not in this privileged position. We can only have faith that He did but this does seem to imply a level of doubt. If we were certain, we would not need faith. So it doesn't seem warranted to feel guilty about having doubt and perhaps it's even a good and healthy thing to acknowledge it.

    Edited to note that Christopher Hitchens died in 2011
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2020
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  2. Dave L

    Dave L Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Faith is a fruit of the Holy Spirit you must have before you can believe in the true biblical sense. It replaces doubt through experiencing the fruit of the Spirit which to the human spirit, what the senses are to the mind. If you have biblical faith, you cannot be overcome by doubt.
     
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  3. Hmmm!

    Hmmm! Member

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    I agree that you should not be overcome by doubt but I'm not sure if or how faith can ever replace doubt. Isn't faith a bit like trust, requiring a personal commitment in the face of objective uncertainty and hence doubt.
     
  4. Dave L

    Dave L Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Faith is an experience in the heart produced by the Holy Spirit. It is there as God wills and we have no control over it as we do with our minds and intellectual ascent (called faith in a non-biblical sense). If God produces faith in a person, they cannot doubt.
     
  5. Hmmm!

    Hmmm! Member

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    I don't know, perhaps I feel the way I do because I haven’t really experienced God as part of a church community. I believe that I have had personal experiences of God but, still, I still ask how can I know that these experiences really were from God? And how important should they be?
     
  6. disciple Clint

    disciple Clint Well-Known Member

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    Doubt is a component of a functioning mind, there are many things in the Bible that are difficult to understand, as God said my thoughts are not your thoughts, we cannot begin to understand God. There are things that we simply have to accept on faith. Our faith develops as we begin to know God as he progressively reveals Himself to us through His word. The Holy Spirit works within us providing sanctification which improves our relationship with God. The better we know God the less we are concerned about those things that we have to accept on faith alone. I find that doubt causes me to get closer to God because that doubt causes me to get into the word and dig into other resources until I find the answer my question and remove my doubt. I think it is important to question Scripture, we should ask as we read what does this verse mean in context, what does it mean to the way I live, what does it tell me about God.
     
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  7. Dave L

    Dave L Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I'm not part of any church community for several decades now. But for me, the experiences line up with the experiences of others in the New Testament. And with others, I run into occasionally. But the big witness is in me before Christ and me after Christ which has brought radical changes in my personal life and in my world view.
     
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  8. Hmmm!

    Hmmm! Member

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    I think that's how I see doubt too, that it's an inevitable part of being human while we're on this world and to see it in a positive way much as a prompting and motivation to learn more about God. I probably need to relax and just enjoy the journey a bit more!
     
  9. Hmmm!

    Hmmm! Member

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    I find my faith has changed me for the better too and helped me get through a lot of things in life but I still feel I don't know anything about God, or anything else come to that!, for sure.
     
  10. eleos1954

    eleos1954 God is Love Supporter

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    I think it is natural for us to have some doubt occasionally .... Thomas had doubt and the Lord didn't hold it against him. Also ... the more we study and learn in His Word ... the more faith we have .... so the less doubt we have.
     
  11. Hmmm!

    Hmmm! Member

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    That's encouraging. I wonder as well if doubt has a positive aspect to it as well and so isn't something we should try to eradicate or get rid of totally. I have a feeling that if I went around being 100% sure I knew the truth and had God completely sussed, I wouldn't be very tolerant or someone anyone would like to have a pint with!
     
  12. Dave L

    Dave L Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I spent my early years in Christ attending different churches but became dismayed having more questions than solid answers. I dropped out and began trying to undo all I'd been taught. Knowing Christ is real, but not to be found in the circles I ran in. So I began studying Reformed Theology thinking they must have some answers through the debates with the Catholics. I found answers for sin and grace questions but little else. Eventually, I landed on a partial Reformed and a partial 1600s English Baptist position. And think the whole church scene today is seriously off the rails.
     
  13. Hmmm!

    Hmmm! Member

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    That's interesting. It's probably a difficult question but what were the main questions you had that weren't being answered in your earlier quest?
     
  14. eleos1954

    eleos1954 God is Love Supporter

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    Usually doubt occurs when one is straying from His word and entertaining things of the world. (ie deceptive distractions from satan)
     
  15. Hmmm!

    Hmmm! Member

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    And that could well be why I feel like this. I don't think I'm the most disciplined of people in trying to live the good life.
     
  16. eleos1954

    eleos1954 God is Love Supporter

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    His word is a delight! ;o)
     
  17. Hmmm!

    Hmmm! Member

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    True!
     
  18. Dave L

    Dave L Well-Known Member Supporter

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    A huge one was how people who never heard the gospel were saved? And why speaking in tongues is learned today instead of spontaneous as in Acts?
     
  19. Jeshu

    Jeshu Bought by His Blood Supporter

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    Doubting God's truth, our salvation for example, is lethal. It has brought a lot of misery in my life for when i needed to trust the truth of God i didn't but doubted and suffered deeply for years doing that.

    In the end i bumped into Jesus the doubter i was and died with a scream of horror realising i brought my own misery into me doubting Him, i have never doubted Him again after that, not because i'm scared to doubt Him, but because He has been so unbelievably true in my life that it is impossible to deny Him any longer.

    To doubt the truth of God doesn't picture God as He is - true to His Word - to doubt lies about God are fine and don't do damage to our faith life, it is only when we doubt the truth of God that the lies of satan have got hold of us, and that is always lethal.

    So doubting your religious education is fine, or doubting what Christianity says is fine too. It is not faith in those that we ought to have, but faith in God is essential to survive our lives living stones in His Kingdom.

    Peace.

    James 1:5-8
    If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.
     
  20. Hmmm!

    Hmmm! Member

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    I had perhaps a similar kind of question which led to me being ignobly ejected from the first church I mentioned. My question was Do unbaptised babies go to hell? The very idea would never have occurred to me and I wouldn't have dreamed of asking it but I came to realise that everyone who I knew in the church believed that they did. I remember one of them telling me that we're in a spiritual war and in a war there are always innocent victims. This was my first experience of church so I thought that this must be a required belief but I couldn't accept it (praise the Lord!) and kept asking Why? I remember the vicar actually sneering at me over his guitar during a Bible study meeting one evening when he thought no one was looking! A great welcoming experience to the family of God!
     
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