Why Doubt and Skepticism are a Healthy part of Faith

Posted On September 28, 2013 By Peter In

Doubt is a regular part of faith.  As strange as it might sound, doubt is God’s way of making us hungry for deeper revelations.  It’s not something we fear; it’s something we explore.

Keep in mind, there’s a huge difference between Skeptics vs. Cynics.  Skeptics are people who attempt to remain as intellectually neutral as possible but Cynics have generally already made up their mind.  Skeptics struggle with doubts. Cynics struggle with trust.  That’s why, over the years, I’ve noticed that information usually helps the Skeptic; but Cynics really don’t care about great intellectual arguments.  Which is why, when you address them with good intellectual information, it doesn’t change anything.  And cynicism isn’t limited to atheists.  Many Christians are cynical too.

Over the last century, there’s been a huge effort to argue that faith and science are at odds with one another.  And yes, there have clearly been some hairy moments throughout the centuries.  Yet, most historians actually credit Christianity as causing the rise of the scientific method.  As famous scientists like Sir Isaac Newton have said, if faith is used responsibly, it can actually lead you to greater depths of intellectual honestly.

Like I mentioned on Easter, 41% of Substance’s attendees did not go to any church or have any real relationship with God only two years ago.  Even more, many of our people are very well educated.  At times, it feels like half our church has their master’s degrees.  (Which shouldn’t surprise us, as we’re surrounded by dozens of universities).  But what I love about our audience is that they always have thoughtful questions.  In fact, I actually love skeptics because, once again, healthy skepticism actually unearths true faith.

Like I shared in my book Pharisectomy, I actually enjoy theological & intellectual tension in my church – provided that it’s a conversation filled with humility.  After all, there’s nothing that drives people to scripture more than theological tension.  For example, most of us didn’t give a rip about certain doctrines or theological issues until we, or someone we loved, started struggling with it – or started dying. But it’s foolish to simply wait around until crisis happens before we wrestle with issues. That’s why the best disciplers are tension-makers more than teachers.  They stimulate a safe amount of soul tension… causing us to wrestle without the extreme emotions that accompany times of crisis.

Remember, if you want a smaller environment to ask your tough questions (without a church-service component), consider coming out to our Alpha experience at our Operation Center this Monday (Sept 29th at 6:30p).  Every Monday, over 100 people come and have great conversations (+ a free meal).  The whole experience is designed for people with tough questions.

And if you have more questions, feel free to check out last year’s series called “Stumped.” We hit “Arguments for the Existence of God” (Apr 21st), Why doesn’t God Answer every Prayer? (Apr.28th);   “Are science and faith compatible?”  or, “How can a loving God create an eternal Hell?” And if you have more questions, come talk to us!


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