apologetics

Next Challenge, Please! Dealing with Doubt

You’ve heard it before, and you will hear it again.

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The Passover Plot: Jesus’ Disciples’ Conspiracy to Form New Religion

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The headlines could be multiplied. We are confronted on a daily basis by challenges to the Christian faith. A simple search on Google turns up thousands upon thousands of results of anti-theists and proponents of other religions with sites to challenge Christianity. Radical claims in archaeology supposedly undermine Biblical truths. You name it.

It can be easy to be swept up in a fire-fighting mentality. As you run into one challenge, you find a quick-and-easy fix for it and then jump to the next one. You want to make sure that you believe the right thing; you want to know that you’re right.

How can a Christian deal with doubt?

In his article, “How Should We Treat New Challenges to the Christian Faith?” in  The Apologetics Study Bible,  Gary Habermas makes five points Christians should follow when dealing with doubts.

1) Divorce our emotions from the challenge- Rather than spending emotional energy constantly doubting due to every new challenge, realize that the Bible has “successfully withstood innumerable attacks over the centuries.”

2) Assume the Bible is true- Habermas urges this presuppositional approach for Christians. Rather than assuming the Bible is guilty until proven innocent, it should be treated with the same historical standard as other texts, and be given a chance to stand on its own before being subjected to hyper-criticism.

3) Carefully analyze each critical allegation against the Bible- Instead of jumping from challenge to challenge with only a superficial understanding, dig into each challenge individually. One thing I always told my students when I taught apologetics classes was that if you run into a question or doubt, I can guarantee someone smarter than me has already written on it. Look into the rich intellectual past of Christianity. Become familiar with the arguments. It will be enlightening and faith-strengthening.

4) Get help from Christian Scholars- Okay I jumped the gun on this one a bit! Do this! Christian brothers and sisters, we have extraordinary access to nearly limitless resources online and in person to deal with doubts. Take advantage of this. Don’t fall into blind faith or dogmatic skepticism; instead, seek to understand.

5) Be patient! Instant answers aren’t always going to happen. Search the Scriptures; follow the above steps; trust in God. I’ve found that dealing with doubt can be a rewarding experience as you pursue a question into the ground. Your faith will be stronger for the experience.

What about archaeological finds? Well again, there’s something to be said for a cautious skepticism about sensational finds. Reasons to Believe has an excellent article on the topic: “Avoiding Crackpot Archaeology”. In it, Krista Bontrager provides a 6-step process for analyzing these sensational claims. I’ll let you read the article for the full details, but here it is in summary: 1) Check the research; 2) check the credentials of the one making the claim; 3) Check for verification; 4) Was it published/where?; 5) What are other scholars saying?; 6) Caution: Is it too good (or bad?) to be true?

Christian brothers and sisters, we owe it to ourselves to pursue the truth. Jesus is the truth. When dealing with doubt, do not forget you’re not alone. All truth is God’s truth, and the pursuit of truth will not leave you ungrounded. Thank God.

SDG.

——

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About J.W. Wartick

J.W. Wartick has an MA in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. His interests include theology, philosophy of religion--particularly the existence of God--astronomy, biology, archaeology, and sci-fi and fantasy novels.

Discussion

3 thoughts on “Next Challenge, Please! Dealing with Doubt

  1. “Assume the Bible is true- Habermas urges this presuppositional approach for Christians. Rather than assuming the Bible is guilty until proven innocent, it should be treated with the same historical standard as other texts, and be given a chance to stand on its own before being subjected to hyper-criticism.”

    Is there a typo here?

    Should we presuppose the bible is true, or should we treat it with the same historical standard as other texts? Which is it?

    Posted by hiero5ant | July 16, 2012, 3:26 PM
    • I believe I worded that very poorly. Habermas says, “We should not adopt the critic’s view that the Bible is guilty until proven innocent. Remembering how Scripture has withstood the test of time inspires us to develop our response with confidence and patience. Neither uncritical acceptance nor superficial rejection of an anti-biblical claim is worthy of those who know God does not lie. Presupposing the Bible’s truthfulness enables the Christian to work toward an answer with persistence and the clarity of mind that stems from assurance.”

      I interpreted that within his generally evidentialist framework to come up with the notion that what he means by “assume the Bible is true” is to give it the benefit of the doubt, which is what historians do with other historical documents. Of course, my interpretation is very possibly mistaken. Thanks for the comment.

      Posted by J.W. Wartick | July 16, 2012, 8:45 PM
  2. Interesting. Doing all but #2 were a main part of my journey toward a more deistic/agnostic worldview.

    Posted by Geoffrey Charles | July 17, 2012, 12:10 PM

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