Tag Archives: doubt

My New Book “Bless-ed” Is Now Out! Blessing #52!


My new book, Bless-ed! Fifty-Two Weekly Blessings You Have as a Believer and How to Help Your Lost Friends Find Theirs is now available on Amazon here. I have copies if you are interested. I will send you a copy for $10 (which includes shipping). Here’s Blessing #52 in Bless-ed:

BLESSING #52: The Blessing of Certainty!

“For my part I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream.” (Vincent Van Gogh)

There is a blessing which believers have which drives some unbelievers crazy! But I’ve never felt that the emotional or mental state of my lost friends should cause me to deny one of Christianity’s greatest gifts. Let’s think about this wonderful blessing that we have. We who follow Jesus —


THE BLESSING There have been some strong opinions expressed against this truth. One writer says, “One of the few certainties in life is that persons of certainty should certainly be avoided.” Hmm. I guess that includes him.

Another expressed her perspective: “Certainty is a cruel mindset. It hardens our minds against possibility.” (Ellen Langer). Bertrand Russell — the philosopher who wrote “Why I Am Not a Christian” — said, “The demand for certainty is one which is natural to man, but is nevertheless an intellectual vice.” [Do I detect a tone of certainty in his statement?]

But every day we live by faith combined with a form of certainty, right? We don’t have to lab test the food we’ve just ordered from McDonald’s, do we? We trust that no one has poisoned our lunch. We may not realize it, but whenever we step on an elevator we are fairly certain that its cables will not suddenly snap and send us to the hereafter. When a family member says they love us, we’re pretty sure we can take them at their word.

THE BIBLE But what is the certainty that is our blessing? We are not talking about mathematical or scientific certainty, arrived at by specific steps or well-defined experiments. No, life is more than a test tube. Our certainty is the highest degree of probability that what we believe is worth believing.

God’s Word has much to say about certainty. Granted that particular word isn’t used that often, but the biblical promise is that we may know particular truths without questions which drag us down into doubt. Here are some representative certainty statements from the epistle of 1 John:

1. There is abundant empirical evidence for believing in Jesus Christ (1:1- 4).

2. We can know for sure that we have come to know God (2:3, 13, 14; 3:24).

3. We know the truth (2:20). We know that we belong to the truth (3:19). And we know what love is (3:16).

4. We know it is the last hour (2:18).

5. We know we are the children of God (3:1). And we know who the children of the devil are (3:10).

6. We know who has been born of Him (2:29). We know that we have passed from death to life (3:14). We know that we have eternal life (5:13).

7. We know that God listens to us (4:6).

One may read 1 John and see many additional statements of certainty that do not begin with the words “we know.”


1. Those who resist Christianity’s truth claims do so from their own worldview. Read over Acts 17 (Paul’s engagement with five groups at Mars Hill) and make a few notes on his evangelistic approach. At what points does he express his certainty in Jesus as the Savior?

2. In his book The Myth of Certainty, Daniel Taylor challenges doubting Christians, arguing that doubts are a normal and healthy part of the Christian life. Taylor says in effect, “Don’t leave your church and Christianity simply because you have doubts. Instead, embrace your doubts, live with your doubts, be satisfied with probable truth.”88 Consider reading Taylor’s book. Do you agree with Taylor? Why or why not?

3. Read one of Os Guinness’ books, either In Two Minds: The Dilemma of Doubt and How to Resolve It or God in the Dark: The Assurance of Faith Beyond a Shadow of Doubt. Guinness does a nice job of explaining the meanings of “faith”, “doubt”, and “unbelief.” Take some notes on either book and discuss it with a friend.

4. PRAYER Pray that your confidence in the truth of the gospel is noticed by your unsaved friend. If it comes up in conversation, ask your friend what evidences he thinks he needs to believe the gospel.

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Posted by on May 19, 2023 in "Bless-ed!"


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Babylon Bee: A New Unitarian Universalist Hymnal!

U.S.—A new printing of the Unitarian Universalist hymnal just contains one song: John Lennon’s “Imagine.”

The official UUA hymnal, titled Songs of Doubt, includes the popular song in a few dozen different arrangements and nothing else.

Now UUA church members can sing along with deeply spiritual lyrics such as “Imagine there’s no heaven / It’s easy if you try / No hell below us / Above us only sky.” While UUA churchgoers aren’t required to participate in hymn singing, the preaching of the Word, church attendance, or anything else, church leaders hope this move will encourage more parishioners to sing along.

“The old hymns were problematic because they mentioned Jesus, the cross, and God sometimes,” said a UUA pastor of doubt formation. “Now we can sing that there aren’t any countries, nothing to kill or die for, and no religion too, just like the Great Feminine Spirit in the sky would have us do.”

“One day all the world will live as one, as Lennon’s classic hymn says,” she added. “Preferably under communism.”


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Some Thoughts on the Book “What’s the Least I Can Believe and Still Be a Christian?” (Post #2) DOUBT!

In his book Martin Thielen, a United Methodist pastor, challenges us to give up certain beliefs which many Christians hold. Some beliefs ought to be jettisoned. Others, not so much.

The book is divided into two sections: Part 1 lists “Ten Things Christians Don’t Need to Believe” and Part 2 is entitled “Ten Things Christians Do Need to Believe.” Let’s think about the second belief Christians don’t need to believe.

2. Good Christians Don’t Doubt: Thielen subtitles this chapter “Doubt is not the enemy of faith but part of authentic Christianity.” Thielen talks about being “all prayed out,” meaning one begins to have doubts about God’s existence and care. He gives several examples, such as Abraham and Sarah praying for a son, Moses becoming frustrated in leading the people of Israel through the wilderness, Job in his sickness and loss, Jeremiah in his anger and anguish.  [Thielen mentions the Apostle Paul’s praying for healing {presumably in 2 Cor. 12}, but feeling “prayed out” in not receiving his healing.  I would disagree with this example].

Thielen says that “even Jesus felt all prayed out” (p. 10).  Hmmm.  Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane does reveal the Lord’s struggle with dying, but He concludes His prayer, “Not my will, but Yours, be done.”  That doesn’t seem like being “prayed out” to me.

MY RESPONSE:  I agree that some of the early Christians had to work their way out of their doubts (“Doubting Thomas” is a classic example), but remaining in doubt certainly isn’t the answer for the disciple.  Doubt, honestly faced, can lead to CONFIDENT FAITH or UNGODLY UNBELIEF. Perhaps my diagram will help a bit.  Doubt can lead to one or the other.

But God doesn’t want us to stay in DOUBT.  I appreciate Timothy Keller who challenges those still on the way to faith to “doubt their doubts”! The writer Frederick Buechner refers to doubt as “the ants in the pants of faith; [moments of doubt] keep it awake and moving.” (Frederick Buechner, Wishful Thinking). Alister McGrath states that “Doubt is probably a permanent feature of the Christian life. It’s like some kind of spiritual growing pain. Sometimes, it recedes into the background; at other times it comes to the fore, making its presence felt with a vengeance.” (Alister McGrath, The Sunnier Side of Doubt). The Christian writer Phillip Yancey confesses, “I have found that petty disappointments tend to accumulate over time, undermining my faith with a lava flow of doubt.” (Phillip Yancey, Disappointment with God, p. 23). I have found a lot of help here from Os Guinness’s book In Two Minds: The Dilemma of Doubt and How to Resolve It. As one reviewer says, “Doubt is an untenable position because it is to be in two minds, not choosing one position or another. But humans cannot live this way, claims Guinness. Eventually you have to make a choice.”

For me the issue often is, Do I choose to believe God — or myself (and my doubts)? We need a godly conviction about the truths declared in God’s Word!  Here, the famous statement by G.K. Chesterton is quite helpful.  He writes: “But what we suffer from today is humility in the wrong place. Modesty has moved from the organ of ambition. Modesty has settled upon the organ of conviction; where it was never meant to be. A man was meant to be doubtful about himself, but undoubting about the truth; this has been exactly reversed. . . . We are on the road to producing a race of men too mentally modest to believe in the multiplication table.” (G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy, pp. 31-32).




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Posted by on February 5, 2019 in doctrine


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Friends Don’t Let Friends . . . Die! (A Study of John 11) Part 18

Jesus’ weeping at Lazarus’ tomb produced two reactions from the Jews who were observing. Some said, “See how He loved him!” Others said, “Why didn’t He keep him from dying? He opened the eyes of the blind man!” Let’s look at this section of John 11 once more …

33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked.

“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.

35 Jesus wept.

36 Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”

37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”

Jesus Raises Lazarus From the Dead

38 Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39 “Take away the stone,” he said.

“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”

40 Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”

There is no record of Jesus responding to those two reactions, either His love for Lazarus or His inaction in preventing him from dying.

We do read the following: “Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb.” (v. 38). I had never noticed the “once more deeply moved” before.

This seems to indicate that Jesus broke down and wept before He went to Lazarus’ tomb and a second time when He arrived there. John the gospel writer could have written, “And Jesus wept a second time,” couldn’t he?

We aren’t told the details of Jesus’ “once-more-being-deeply-moved,” but perhaps it was more than tears of sympathy. Perhaps there was also anger at the devastation that death had brought to those He loved.

But this was not the time for explanations. This was the time for action and Jesus commands those at the tomb, “Take away the stone.” (v. 39).

Not to over-spiritualize, but I’ve got some stones that keep me in a kind of deadness of unbelief. How about you? When things happen to me or my family that Jesus could have prevented, the easiest course of action is to doubt the Lord and His love for me. Am I the only one with these kinds of stones? (to be continued)











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Posted by on November 25, 2017 in doubt


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Time for a Great Cartoon! (nagging doubts)

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Do you ever have “nagging doubts”? The skeptic Bertrand Russell said, “The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.” Yann Martel in the Life of Pi said, “If Christ spent an anguished night in prayer, if He burst out from the Cross, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ then surely we are also permitted doubt. But we must move on. To choose doubt as a philosophy of life is akin to choosing immobility as a means of transportation.”

May I suggest that doubt is like a fork in the road — One road of the fork leads to confident faith; the other fork leads to unbelief.  And unbelief is sin.

George Macdonald once said, A man may be haunted with doubts and only grow thereby in faith. Doubts are the messengers of the Living One to the honest. They are the first knock at our door of things that are not yet, but have to be, understood.” Os Guinness has a great article found here and entitled “I Believe in Doubt.”

How about you?  Do your doubts lead you to confident faith or immobile unbelief?


Posted by on January 25, 2015 in doubt


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Spirituality, Hard Thinking, and Theology (time for a good quote)

“Our folk evangelicalism too often denigrates the life of the mind and FirefoxScreenSnapz541especially critical thinking. Even to raise an honest question about a popularly believed evangelegend (religious urban legend) is enough to provoke prayers on your behalf for your spiritual renewal. We do God no favors by being gullible, credulous, irrational, or uncritical. No special spiritual aura accompanies stupidity or ignorance. All too often, however, contemporary popular Christianity leads people to think that spirituality and hard thinking stand in conflict with each other. God gave us minds and expects us to use them.” (Roger Olson, Questions to All Your Answers: The Journey from Folk Religion to Examined Faith)


1.  How have you seen Evangelicalism denigrate the life of the mind?

FirefoxScreenSnapz5422.  In his book In Two MInds (later republished under the title Doubt), Os Guinness says that doubt is not necessarily a bad thing.  Doubt can lead either to a deeper faith commitment or to ungodly unbelief.  Have we misunderstood doubt in our churches, do you think?  Why or why not?

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Posted by on June 7, 2014 in In Two Minds


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