Monday, March 11, 2013

Faith, Doubt, and Unbelief Part 4

Ronald Habermas thinks Christians have mistakenly looked at doubt as something to be avoided at all costs. In his paper, “Doubt is a Four Letter Word,” he states that “most Christians claim that queries about faith are negative, writing off all forms of doubt as the antithesis of belief’ (402). He disagrees with this assumption. In his paper, he distinguishes between constructive and destructive doubt. He thinks the religious leaders during the time of Jesus illustrate destructive doubt. These leaders displayed a cynical nature and “sought entrapment [of Jesus] through his own words and deeds” (403). Constructive doubt was illustrated by Doubting Thomas and John the Baptist. They sought answers to their questions. Habermas makes an important point about Thomas: “The primary issue that Doubting Thomas confronted faces many non-believers today: the perceived need personally to validate all facts of the Risen Lord before accepting the Gospel” (404). This can be a stumbling block to both believers and non-believers. Non-believers can be unwilling to accept the Gospel till they validate everything about Jesus before believing in Him. The question is can we believe without having all our questions answered?
            Habermas argues that doubt can be beneficial. He quotes from Tenneyson: “There live more honest faith in honest doubt, believe me, than in half the creeds” (408). Habermas believes these words have been confirmed multiple times in research studies. He notes how participants in these studies have overwhelmingly stated that their faith was “made stronger by questioning early beliefs” (408).

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