Certainty, Doubt, and Christian Faith


Christians exhibit a wide range of attitudes
toward the Christian faith when it comes to their certainty about the Christian faith. Some Christians have deep, 100% certainty,
or so they say, about the truth of the Christian faith. Other Christians really struggle; they wrestle
with doubt that plagues them, and yet they cling tenaciously to Christian faith. And then there’s every position in between
those two. And I think that it’s important to understand
that certainty is just a psychological property or state. It’s just the property of being firmly convinced
of something. And as such, certainty is really unrelated
to truth. You can be absolutely certain about something
that turns out to be false. When my son was 17 years old he had this problem
a lot. Trust me dad, he’d say, and then it would
turn out to be wrong. So certainty isn’t any guarantee of truth,
and similarly, doubt and uncertainty is no indication of error. There could be certain truths, like say a
complex mathematical equation, which is necessarily true and yet we’re not certain we’ve done
the calculation right; we’re not free of any doubt that this might be the case. And so I think that we should recognize that
at different times and stations in life, with different people, different personalities,
people may be all over the map with regard to their certainty of their faith. That is not the most important thing; the
most important thing is faithfulness, that is to say perseverance, in the faith, regardless
of your degree of certainty. I do think that through the inner witness
of the Holy Spirit we do have a kind of fundamental bedrock assurance that our faith is true,
and so even for the person struggling with doubt, wrestling with inner turmoil, at the
bottom, if he’s filled with the Holy Spirit, walking in fellowship with the Lord, there
will be that bedrock assurance that comes from the testimony of the Holy Spirit with
his spirit that he is a child of God and that therefore his faith is true. And that will help him to persevere through
these times of testing.

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About the Author: Emmet Marks

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