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Have you ever had doubts about your faith? Your choices? Your convictions? That’s not always a bad thing. Sometimes doubt can open up the door for you to ask tough questions, the kinds of questions you might not ask otherwise. These can lead to growth, maturity, and even stronger faith. You might even change your mind, and that’s a good thing.
The death of Jesus confused the disciples. They thought He would be the one to restore Israel, but apparently He had failed, so when word came concerning His resurrection, some had doubts. In fact, after seeing Jesus, some of His closest disciples called the apostles still doubted. Read for yourself below:
But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful.Matthew 28:16–17
When they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they refused to believe it.Mark 16:11
They went away and reported it to the others, but they did not believe them either.Mark 16:13
Now they were Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James; also the other women with them were telling these things to the apostles. But these words appeared to them as nonsense, and they would not believe them.Luke 24:10–11
So the other disciples were saying to him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”John 20:25
Why would the Bible tell us that some disciples doubted? That’s some of the worst propaganda ever written, right? Why include that detail? Because everyone has doubts. Everyone goes through a period of questioning what they know. The gospel writers included these stories so we could relate to them. If Jesus’ closest followers and personal friends had doubts, then isn’t it normal? Doubts are helpful to us because of a process called construction, deconstruction, and reconstruction.
When we are growing, we construct certain realities based on the convictions of our teachers, true or false. But when we ask questions, these questions lead us to doubt these teachings, principles, theories, or ideas. These doubts then lead to deconstruction. This is breaking down what one knows in order to test each individual part. Then reconstruction occurs. You don’t throw away all the other parts, but you include what works and move beyond the parts that don’t.
Doubt is the road to growth, if used correctly. Unfortunately, many people get stuck in deconstruction. As Ken Wilber points out, relativism (denies claim to objectivity) and narcism is a nasty combination that causes entire groups of people to look down their nose at reconstruction. We must be willing then to work through the doubt and not get stuck within it. We can learn to use it and live beside it instead of within it. After all, more doubts will come in varying degrees as we continue to learn, critique, and relearn.
Speaking of faith and doubt, a friend of mine recently published a book. Though I haven’t read it yet, I’ve seen that it’s gotten excellent reviews so far on Amazon. My copy should be in the mail shortly. It’s called Faith After Doubt by Brian McLaren.