Saturday, August 6, 2011

The benefits of doubt

The apostle Thomas is most commonly known as "doubting Thomas."  Poor Thomas, is almost looked at in a negative light for that one incident of doubt.  Even though Thomas doubted, it was not a negative that impaired his entire life.  In fact, once Thomas encountered the risen Christ his life was never the same.  According to tradition, Thomas gave his life as a martyr in Northern India for the cause of Jesus.  Interestingly, Thomas is rarely given credit for recognizing the divinity of Jesus (John 20:28), shortly after his encounter with the risen Lord.

Is doubt only to be seen in a negative light?  Can doubt actually bring about benefits?  As a freshman in college  majoring in Geology, I came to believe in Jesus as the promised Messiah.  Everything about Christianity was new to me.  At the same time, I was receiving a lot of information from my science professors that seemed to cast a negative light on the existence of God and the Christian faith.  I can honestly say that that the first year or two of my Christian walk was one of the most doubt filled times I had as a Christian.  However, even though I had many doubts at the time (and still they surface), I can look back at the benefits of doubt.  I would like to suggest 4 benefits to having doubts in your life.

1.   Doubts keep individuals honest.

One of the charges that atheists lay at the feet of the Christian is that you are only a Christian because of the culture you grew up in.  While this is true to a certain extent, many atheists, I feel, fall victim to the same charge.  Having honest doubts about anything is actually beneficial for one to think outside the box, and not just accept the cultural narrative.

2.   Doubts can cause individuals to research.

Honest doubts can compel individuals to research the evidence of the subject being doubted.  A little research never hurt anyone, in fact, research can only lead to finding out if your doubts are justified or not.

3.   Doubts can bolster an individual's position.

One of the greatest benefits of doubts is that it can strengthen your worldview position.  Many of the past doubts that I have addressed have only increase my faith in the Christian Worldview.  In fact, I enjoy dialoguing with individuals who have a different worldview than my own.  I have found out, over time, that dealing with doubts is minimized the more you are able to address them in an honest way.

4.   Doubts can lead individuals to the truth.

An honest person, that does their own research can be changed to follow the truth.  Many people, such as C.S. Lewis, have faced their doubts head on only to be reached by the truth.  In reality, truth can't be doubted, because truth stands alone.

Not all doubts should be seen in a negative light.  Having doubts can actually be beneficial to the honest person.  Don't doubt me on this!

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