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Dr. Carl Trueman: “Doubting on Your Part Does Not Constitute a Crisis of Faith on Mine”

July 30, 2012

This is an interesting post by Dr. Carl Trueman on the Reformation21 blog, titled Doubting on Your Part Does Not Constitute a Crisis of Faith on Mine.   To some extent I’d say he has written a good response to those who do think their inability to believe means everyone should have the same issue.  It just isn’t so, and this portion is excellent:

Over the last few years I have read dozens of pieces that tell me that it is no longer possible to believe in the historical Adam, in the Pentateuchal narratives, in a Christological reading of the Old Testament, in the Incarnation, in the resurrection, in biblical sexual ethics, and in hell; that, in doing so, I am acting irrationally and am engaged in a desperate quest for certainty.   At times such sentiments sadden me; at other times they irritate.  A desperate, irrational quest for certainty?  How I wish that I might not be certain about a number of those things, given that they fly in the face of my socially liberal instincts.
My response to these criticisms varies depending upon the specific doctrine at issue but I would like to offer one general reply to those who write and email such. I am sorry that you have doubts; I am sorry that your Christian parents or schoolteachers screwed you up with their bad teaching; I am sorry that you can no longer believe the simple catechetical faith that you were once taught; I am sorry that the Bible seems like little more than a confused mish-mash of contradictory myths and endlessly deferred meaning.  But that you struggle with doubts does not mean that those who do not struggle in the same way are simply weak-minded, in denial or bare-faced liars.  Nor, more importantly, does the mere fact that you have doubts mean that those doubts are necessarily legitimate and well-grounded.  Doubting on your part does not constitute a crisis of faith on mine.
This is something I think every orthodox believer needs to take to heart.
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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Irene permalink
    July 30, 2012 1:21 am

    It seems that here the author has confused doubt with outright rejection, but otherwise his point is excellent.
    Several times I have heard or read of the “sin of doubt”. I think doubt is less a matter of sin than simply part of the human condition even among staunch believers. We are from time to time assaulted by doubt. We reject the doubting when we return to the faith which is well-known to be very rational even if very ancient.

    • July 30, 2012 10:49 am

      I do see your point; it does occur to me that Dr. Trueman may be using the terminology that those “doubters” of whom he speaks would use themselves. (Portraying themselves as honest doubters gives them some freedom to seek to cause that doubt in others.) But I agree with you he is describing what you (accurately, I think) call “rejection”.

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