Should a Christian Doubt?
I received a copy of Help My Unbelief: Why Doubt Is Not The Enemy Of Faith, written by Barnabas Piper, from NetGalley for the purpose of generating a review. This book releases today! With the exception of the opening Scripture, italicized quotes are from the book. The opinions expressed here are my own.
Near the end of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus’ greatest preaching and teaching, we read a set of verses that can make any Christian quiver:
Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’ (Matthew 7:21-23)
Jesus warned us that not all church-going, good-works folks will enter heaven. The thought of hearing Jesus say to me, “I never knew you” is about more than I can take.
In Barnabas Piper’s latest book, “Help My Unbelief,” he encourages Christians to move beyond going through the motions to developing a living, active relationship with Jesus. Then, we can begin to seek the will of our Father.
Transformation was what was missing from my belief; it is what is missing from so much of the church’s belief as well.
This book should come with a warning though. When you start taking this Christian walk very seriously, you’re sure to have questions. Times of doubt. Piper recalls the story of Jesus healing a boy possessed by a demon (Mark 9:14-29). Right before the healing, Jesus challenges the boy’s father, telling him “everything is possible for one who believes.”
To which the father responds, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief.” The father’s honest response spoke volumes to Piper.
Christians who don’t know the tension of ‘I believe; help my unbelief’ might not be Christians at all, or at the least they might be very infantile ones.
Ouch. Again, readers must check themselves. If you’re a long-time Christian and have never struggled through unanswered questions; times of doubt over certain passages of Scripture; disillusionment with an idea you used to see in black and white; Barnabas wrote this book with you in mind.
My goal is to help you see that belief isn’t blind faith and that questions, if asked well, are building blocks for stronger faith rather than stepping-stones away from it.
Admittedly, asking questions and owning our doubts doesn’t mean God will rush to give us every answer we need. I appreciated how Piper pointed out that God has given us all the knowledge we need in Scripture. While the Bible doesn’t answer every question, it paints an accurate picture of God’s character. Part of our faith walk is learning who God is and placing our trust in Him. Even among all the mystery and the I don’t knows.
Dwell with Him and while you won’t stop having questions, you will find the peace to live with them, knowing that God’s character is immutably good. His love is unchanging and unending.
That sounds like the very best relationship to me.