House of doubt

Most of us go through seasons of doubt. In my college years, I went through a serious season of doubt, and without the prayers of family and friends, I’m not sure I would have ever gotten out of it. I began questioning the existence of God, the truthfulness of His word, and His calling on my life in general. Many of my closest friends were enduring the same. Some are now walking faithfully with the Lord; others have abandoned faith in God altogether.

To doubt is not a bad thing. But it’s also not a place you want to hang your hat. James tells us that the person who doubts is “like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.” Anyone who has experienced doubt knows exactly what is meant by that statement. Doubting is like building a house upon the sand, eventually, those waves are going to take it all in.  

A doubting person is “double-minded” and “unstable”. Why? Because he is being suspended between faith and unbelief. The doubter has not abandoned faith, but neither has he embraced unbelief. Most of us experience doubt after undergoing a traumatic life event. For example, the death of a loved or the moral failing of a spiritual leader. Some of us experience doubt in school when our beliefs, traditions, and assumptions are challenged.

In his Institutes, John Calvin wrote: “Surely, while we teach that faith ought to be certain and assured, we cannot imagine any certainty that is not tinged with doubt or any assurance that is not assailed by some anxiety.” Doubt and anxiety are the natural outflowings of our sinful condition. “Faith is subject to various doubts, —doubts, anxieties, and distresses. So that the minds of believers are seldom at rest, or at least are not always tranquil.”

Most of us dislike living in the in-between. We do not like living in a house built upon doubt. Daily we cry out, “Lord, help me with my unbelief!” However, some do choose to take up residence in the city of doubt. In this postmodern and skeptical age, choosing to build upon doubt can be an alluring thing. The doubter is granted the ability to criticize everyone and be judged by none. The doubter doesn’t have to worry about his own beliefs being challenged, because he has no confidence in his belief system. The only conviction he has is to doubt everything. He has an unassailable vantage point, or so he supposes, from which he can thunder judgment.  

Once the allure wears off, the doubter realizes he lives in a house with no bed. Nobody sleeps well in the house of doubt. It’s a world without assurance, joy, peace, and hope. 

Christian, it’s ok to doubt, but don’t take up residence there. 

“But the new rebel is a skeptic, and will not entirely trust anything. He has no loyalty; therefore he can never be really a revolutionist. And the fact that he doubts everything really gets in his way when he wants to denounce anything. For all denunciation implies a moral doctrine of some kind; and the modern revolutionist doubts not only the institution he denounces, but the doctrine by which he denounces it…In short, the modern revolutionist, being an infinite skeptic, is always engaged in undermining his own mines. In his book on politics he attacks men for trampling on morality; in his book on ethics he attacks morality for trampling on men.

Therefore the modern man in revolt has become practically useless for all purposes of revolt. By rebelling against everything he has lost his right to rebel against anything.”

-Orthodoxy, G.K. Chesteron

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