Season: 10 Episode: 158
Listen to episode 158 in Spanish:
Doubt is not neutral. It never stays put. It will draw you further away from God or, if dealt with correctly, doubt can help you become a stronger Christian. However, doubt is something everyone deals with because it is not only a Christian problem – it is a human problem. Shanda reviews Bobby Conway’s book Doubting Toward Faith in this episode. She pulls out the most significant struggles Christians have when they doubt, and she lays out the tips given by Bobby to help you move through doubt toward a greater faith in God. This episode is not only for those who doubt, but for those who know others struggling with doubts of their own. By the end of the episode you will want to do two things: buy the book and read it, and NEVER break the number one rule when someone tells you they have doubts.
Instagram and Facebook: @shandafulbright
Join my Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/2584147064952378/?ref=group_browse
Free Resources: https://www.shandafulbright.com/links
YouTube: Shanda Fulbright
Hey guys! Welcome back to another episode of Her Faith Inspires podcast where we take cultural issues and align them to biblical truth. Today’s episode is a recap of some of the points from Bobby Conway’s book Doubting Toward Faith. It’s an amazing book and I’m about to let my dad read it, so before I give it to him, I decided to share some of the fantastic bits of information in the book.
Some of you have also asked me how I study or how I retain information. Ok, so here are a few tips and tricks when you read. But keep in mind that as a student, you are responsible for grabbing hold of the information. Learning isn’t a mindless task. Learning takes as much intentionality to grab the information as the teacher takes to teach it. Well, that’s not exactly true. It think teaching is much more strategic because it involved breaking down information and organizing it, but the learner must still be an active participant when trying to grab the info. So yes, it’s not a passive activity.
What I do when I read is highlight the information that sticks out to me or that makes a great point.
But here’s the misconception with highlighting.
You know what … hold that thought. I have a few things to tell you before we get into the episode and I have to tell you now so we don’t have anymore breaks. First, if you want exclusive content and links, entry into a private FB group, become part of my book club, and more, hit the Patreon link in the description. I try to be very generous with my members and give them all the excellent inside info.
Also, LGR is going to start up again in Feb, so if you were on the fence about signing your middle schooler up for that, do it now because we do cap the class and this first round of students were awesome! I really loved teaching them.
Alright, back to the misconception with highlighting while you read – highlighting does not mean retention. Just because you highlight something does not mean you are going to remember it. Actually, you won’t. You might remember, if you’re lucky, 10% of what you read. What’s the point. So be an active read and do something with what you’ve highlighted. I always open up a word doc after I read and type in all of my highlighted info. It can take a while to complete it, but once I do that, I probably remember more than 50% of the highlighted information because I wrote it down.
Second, I circle the words I don’t know, write them in the front of the book and look up the words.
I’ve also written them on a whiteboard before, looked them over every day, used them in a sentence and once I know what the word meant without looking it up, I erased it from the whiteboard. Again, what’s the point in reading if you don’t understand what you read? Answer: there is no point. I used to care about how many books I would finish in a year, and now I don’t care. In fact, I am going to go back to some of the books I’ve read and re-read my notes on them. And if I read them again, I’ll use a different colored highlighter and highlight the words things that stand out to me that aren’t highlighted this time. It’s another way to retain more of the information in the book. I really want to do that with Voddie Baughcam’s Expository Apologetics. In fact, I’ve been thinking about recapping some of the books I read with you to share the information and help you become more knowledgeable. We need to become thinkers because we are Christians. And Christians are people of a book. We should be the most literate and intelligent people on the planet. Ok, that’s my teacher plug. Moving on.
BTW, I encourage my boys to read all the time.
I recommend books to them all the time. And I ask them what they’re reading. Encourage your kids to read and you will help them become better thinkers. Don’t tell your kids I told you that because they’ll hate me. Ha!
Alright, so Doubting Toward Faith. This is a great book that talks bout doubt and unbelief and there is just so much great information in it. Bobby Conway is the One Minute Apologist on youTube and he is a pastor at a church near Charlotte, NC. He has a great heart for others and really encourages Christians who might struggle with doubt because he’s had his own struggles.
To make this easier, I think I’m going to go chapter by chapter with you and pull out some of the things that I thought were fantastic thoughts.
First, let’s talk about what doubt is.
Bobby says, “Doubt doesn’t just ask, ‘What is real?’ It poses the challenge, ‘Is my faith real? Is what I believe valid? Or is simply a modified myth, and unbar-marketed religious fairytale supported by millions of gullible minds throughout history?”
So doubt takes us deeper and really challenges all that we believe. This is why I am so passionate about tethering apologetics to Scripture as Christians. We need to know how God’s word and God’s world are in unison with each other.
Bobby says this, “Doubt trumps wondering, and it body slams mere curiosity. In its worst form, it goes beyond simply searching for answers to questions, inevitably denying the legitimacy of the questions themselves.”
Now, I believe there are different degrees to doubt.
There is doubt that causes you to find your answers and become satisfied with the result and then there is that doubt that rocks you to your core. He just described the rock you to your core doubt.
Bobby says one of the things that causes doubt is how much cultural itself changes. I always say that we do not want to become a casualty of culture and not only us but our family and most importantly, our kids. He said that there is a moral slop that cultural slides down in a fivefold fashion and that is rejection, to tolerance, to acceptance, to celebration, and to rejecting the opposite of the very thing they once rejected. And don’t we see this now in regard to the transgender issue? Don’t we see this in regard to abortion? And this can cause some Christians to wonder if morality really is relative. This is also doubt.
Bobby makes a great point that with the shift of culture, we see a rise of doubt among Christians because instead of the church being confident of their stance against issues such as abortion, same sex marriage, the trans issue, we wonder if we are the ones out of touch. And then what happens? Some will try and re-invent their idea of God, especially Jesus, or exclude Him altogether.
The point he makes is that debut isn’t neutral.
If we don’t wrestle with our doubts and we allow culture to take over, we will doubt away from God. As Bobby says, “Doubt precede apostasy.”
So does that mean we stay silent about our doubt? Does that mean we don’t voice our doubts for fear of being accused of doubting away from God? Not at all. He notes a write named Lillian Kwon who wrote an article about college kids and doubt. She said, “The more college students felt that they had the opportunity to express their doubt while in high school, the higher their levels faith and maturity and spiritual maturity.” David Kinnaman wrote a book called You Lost Me and says, “I believe unexpressed donut is one of the most powerful destroyers of faith.”
In fact, my oldest son came to me a few years ago and told me he was struggling with doubt.
I believe he was 15 or 16. I always wondered how I would handle that. Would I panic or freak out? By the grace and peace of God, I was calm. Because I know there are good reasons to believe that Christianity is true. My son told me he didn’t want to believe because I told him God was real. He wanted to know for himself. Now that he is 19 and reads and studies on his own, he is more convinced God exists and is confident in his own decision to follow the Lord.
We must allow others to wrestle through their doubts, but be prepared to point them in the right direction when they do. Not all doubt is bad. Some doubts spur us on to greater confidence in the Lord when we use it to motivate us to find answers.
I want to point to something Bobby says that is a fantastic point. He says, “ Thinking about our faith is different than doubting our faith. Doubting shifts from healthy to unhealthy the moment we start doubting the truth.”
William Lane Craig writes this, “It is unbiblical to think of donut as a virtue; to the contrary, doubt is always portrayed in the Scriptures as something detrimental to spiritual life.”
So make sure you know the difference between thinking about your faith to doubting your faith.
James 1 gives us a great picture of doubt when it talks about a person who doubts is double-minded. You are between two opinions, two beliefs and you’re not sure where to land. It is not good to stay there.
As I said before, doubt is not neural. Bobby says this about it, “Make no mistake. Doubt never stays put. It’s not neutral. It makes up its mind. It’s directional. It’s going somewhere. This means a person will doubt toward unbelief or they will doubt toward faith. You’ll waver one way or the other.”
Doubt doest mean you aren’t a Christian.
It’s important to stress this point because some people feel guilty when they doubt God or the Bible or Jesus. But I think we need to really understand what doubt is and what to do with our doubt. We either control it or it controls us. And that’s what we must remember. That’s why Bobby says we have to face our doubts and not brush them under the rug. They’re real. But they also have real solutions so doubt doesn’t grow.
In fact, St. Augustine explains that, “Doubt is but another element of faith.” But everyone doubts. When a Christian doubts, he wonders if God exists. When an atheists doubts, He wonders if God exists. You see how that happens? Doubt is centered around the question, “Is what I believe true?” Bobby makes a great point and says, “There’s no need for faith if we have all the answers.” Isn’t that great? It takes the load off of my shoulders and reminds me that there is an element of faith needed no matter how much evidence we have or how many answers we get to our beliefs. And, as Bobby says, if we have all the answers, then we’re God and He is the only one who is all-knowing. I love that. God is all knowing and I am not, so doubt is going to creep in from time to time but God has given us all we need to be confident to put our faith in Him.
So, what’s the absolute worst thing you can say to someone wrestling with their doubt?
To tell them not to doubt. To tell them to just believe or just have faith does nothing to their doubt. In fact, I think it feeds it. You know why Christians tell other Christians to just have faith and not doubt? Because those Christians don’t have the answers. And Christianity is not blind faith. So a caution: don’t tell people to just have faith and not doubt. It won’t work. And Bobby says, “If Christianity really contains the truth, then it can certainly handle life’s most challenging questions.”
And here’s the thing: some Christians do not like the fact that there is evidence that points to God’s existence. They do think, and they say, “You just gotta have faith.” Faith in what? Faith without reason is blind. God never asks us to follow Him blindly. When John the Baptist, Jesus’ cousin, was put into prison and was about to be beheaded. Sent hid disciples to Jesus because he questioned what he thought he was so sure of – that Jesus was the son of God. But just like you and I do when we are hard pressed with trials, fear, uncertainty, we wonder where God is, JTB did too. And he said, “Are you the one to come or should we expect another.”
What did Jesus do?
Did He say, “Look guys, just tell John he’s gotta have faith and he will be alright.” No, Jesus didn’t say that. He went about healing those who were sick and had diseases and then he turned to John’s disciples and said, “Go back and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive site, the lame walk, the good news is preached to the poor, and blessed is he who does not stumble because of me.” What was John stumbling over? It was doubt. And Jesus never told someone to just have faith without first showing them, providing the reasons to believe He was who He said He was.
Faith without reason is blind and I dare say blind faith isn’t faith at all. Jesus never asked us to believe in Him because He said so. He said, “If you don’t believe Me believe the words because they testify of Me.”
The worst thing you can do is tell someone to just have faith in God without giving them a reason to have faith in God. And the reasons are going to be the evidence that points to His existence. Experience alone isn’t good enough because every religion provides an experience. Your testimony must always include the gospel because without the gospel, you don’t have a testimony.
That’s why I am an advocate for apologetics.
God doesn’t need us to defend Him but our belief in God must be defended. Especially in a world full of false teachers leading those with unanswered and unsettled doubts astray.
And the thing is, God can handle our doubts. Bobby touches on this. He said we should tell God what they are. I learned a long time ago that God can handle what I have to say because He knows it anyway. It shows more faith to go to God with our doubts than to wrestle through them on our own.
One of the last things I want to pull out here is a point Bobby makes when he says there is no religion or belief system that can prove their faith with 100 percent certainty. So, he says, “In the absence of certainty theres is always doubt.”
“That’s why doubt is not a Christian problem but a human problem.”
On page 76 of his book, he gives examples of things he believes are true and trustworthy.
He says, “I believe my wife when she says she’ll be faithful to only me.”
“I believe a red light will turn green in a reasonable amount of time.”
I believe it will get dark tonight. I’m betting you believe that too.”
He then says, “None of the above examples is 100 percent guaranteed as there are potential scenarios that may prevent them from happening. And yet, I proceed by faith every day believing in all of them. Absolute certainty is not required for me to accept them. But some level of faith is.” He goes on to say, “We cannot confuse feeling certain with being certain.”
To finalize this point he makes, I have to quote two statements he sharers about certainty:
“The reality is, even those who feel 100 percent certain can’t prove Christianity with 100% ceratainty. And we do the church a great disservice when we act like we can.”
“Thankfully, certainty has never been a requirement for belief in Christ. Faith is. Not blind faith, but evidential, reasonable, informed faith.”
So what do you do if you wrestle with doubt or if someone you know and love wrestles with doubt?
This is in chapter 8 of Doubting Toward Faith, so get the book if you want more depth. And again, I highly recommend it. it’s good for you and it’s good to help others.
- Rank your doubts. I honesty never thought of this before. He said you basically put them into two categories: macro doubts and then each of the macro doubts has micro doubts. He gives an example of the problem of evil being a macro doubt. Or creation can be a macro doubt. And then the micro doubt of the problem of evil can be hell. Or maybe the micro doubt that falls under the macro doubt of creation is evolution. Did God really use evolution to create?
2. Embrace your doubt as your frenemy. His quote. “While Satan can use doubt to destroy us, God can use doubts to develop us.”
3. Avoid thinking that says, “If you doubt you must not love God.” He says that if you didn’t love God then your doubt wouldn’t bother so, you obviously care and want to settle it.
He also says …
4. Don’t overly obsess about your doubts. He says, “Simply put, if we feed our doubts they’ll grow.” He goes on to say, “If we obsess over anything long enough, it will enslave us.”
5. Doubt out loud with trusted friends. And this is where you might be of help to someone who is doubting. But make sure you help them through it. If they have questions and you don’t have the answers, wrestle with them. Help them find the answers. Offer to study with them. Bobby says, “Doubt like, fear, anger, worry, etc needs a place to express itself.” So if that’s you, find someone strong in their faith and ask them to help you be their sounding board or help you find the answers.
6. Know when to doubt your doubts.
7. Chase God’s heart. The Bible tell us that when we seek God with a whole heart, we will find Him. Call out to God and seek Him. He will guide you and reveal Himself to you through His word.
I want to wrap up this episode today by encouraging you to either take these tips and wrestle through your doubt, or be prepared to help someone else wrestle through them. This book is a great resource for wrestling with doubt.
Although we shouldn’t feel like failures when we doubt, we must understand that doubt is not neutral. It is our responsibility to know what we believe and the reasons we have put our faith and trust in God.
Again, if you have not read Doubting Toward Faith by Bobby Conway, I highly recommend it. If you have teens or kids who struggle with doubt, because they probably do, it will help you help them. Or, if you are struggling with doubt, it will encourage you and equip you to know how to handle it.
Lastly, if you enjoy the podcast, please leave 5 star rating and review. If you have any questions for me, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll catch you on the next one.