Is Doubt A Good Thing?
We live in a culture of doubt and skepticism, and many “Christian” authors are telling us this is good for the church. A bevy of books have come off the press in the past few years arguing that theological certainty—of any kind—is arrogant and reckless. We live in an age that despises absolutes of any kind, both theologically and morally. For example, best-selling author, Brian McClaren, urges us to adopt a “hermeneutic of humility.” What this usually means is that I need to adopt a hermeneutic that agrees with him. New Testament scholar Peter Enn’s book, The Sin of Certainty, is another such example. In similar fashion, Greg Boyd’s book, Benefit of Doubt, also extols the value of doubt.
Rob Bell’s newer book, What is the Bible?, is also in this genre. Bell is glib, witty, and has a truck load of verbiage about the Bible. For Bell, the Bible is a “library of books, written by people trying to figure it out, wrestling with their demons, doubting, struggling, doing what they could to bring light to their world.” In spite of this, he feels this library of books has been breathed into (he doesn’t say by what or whom) and it shows us what redemption looks like, thus giving us hope and insisting that individuals like us “can actually do our part to heal, repair, and restore this world we call home.” I’m not exactly sure what that means. The bigger problem is that Bell doesn’t take the Bible seriously enough. He picks verses out of context to make his points and, before making a solid argument, he flits off to make another point. He is the master of twisting texts and sowing doubt, all the while insisting on his humble quest for authenticity. I don’t buy it.
So… is doubt a good thing? The short answer: it can be. It all depends on whether we really have an open mind. Most people who claim to have an open mind really don’t. They have minds that are as tightly sealed as Fort Knox. The truly open-minded person is open to incoming data and truth. That means they are willing to change their opinion when they read information and encounter data that makes more sense in another direction. Jesus said the truth will set us free. This is where my money is! I get a bit suspicious when new spiritual “truth” ends up looking no different than our liberal, laissez-faire, affluent, secular, egalitarian, cynical, suburban, middle-class, postmodern reigning ethos. Something’s fishy when this happens. I’ll stick with Jesus and His words. They are time-tested and sure. No doubt about it!
by Jay Childs, Senior Pastor