We kicked off our new study last night with some great discussion on doubt with our first question: Is it wrong to doubt God? Below you will find an outline of our discussion with some insights from our youth. This was a great way to kick off our new study and hope the blog will help you to connect with your youth!
Last week we took a survey on Twitter and posed the following question
When you question God, which doubt is most common for you?
- I doubt God exists
- I doubt God is good
- I doubt God is powerful
- I doubt God cares
On Twitter we have four responses, 3 of which doubted God exists, the other if God is good. Last night we posed the same question and the results were similar, but maybe a bit different. Many of the youth didn’t doubt the existence of God per say, but they doubted the existence of God as we “see” God in the world around us.
Many of the youth discussed the idea of the Christianity vs. science. The debate on whether or not the Bible can be trusted with the creation story or if science is disproving the Bible and what that does to our understanding of God and God’s ability within this world.
A Nervous God
Are there questions that could make God nervous? Some people believe that God will punish those who doubt. But if God is really all powerful and has nothing to hide, would God fear human questioning? Why would God be opposed to it? This was part of our discussion in which we posed the science side of the world. Is God worried about what science is discovering, or is God excited to see God’s creation being interpreted in new ways which can lead to a better understanding of how God is at work in the world around us…some great thinking surrounding this topic!
Intellectual vs. Emotional Doubts
Part of our discussion then turned to the different “kinds” of doubts we can have in our lives. The first, Intellectual doubts include things like the origin of creation or an intellectual belief that God isn’t really present or doesn’t actively take a role in the world around us.
Emotional doubts might include a string of negative events or observations that lead to an emotional response that doubts God.
Youth talked about how both doubts can play a role in our understanding of our faith and also how both doubts can come at different times in life depending on the circumstances they face. Sounds similar to how we as adults deal with doubt at different times in our lives.
Well known pastor John Ortberg says doubt does important things for our faith journey.
-Makes trust possible
-adds humility to our faith
-helps us learn
-pushes us to seek truth
-leads to growth
Which one do you believe is most true? Why?
Does Doubt Make You Unstable?
Sometimes we can take scripture out of context and we hear different things. Like in James 1:5-8 we can read “But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.”
Looking closer at James 1, we can see the doubt the author was referencing was not necessarily the doubt we are talking about, but more related to the request for wisdom, not all doubts. This is important as we are allowed to doubt, but we must also keep our doubt in check. When doubt becomes more about the arrogance of the doubter, rather than genuine questioning, it becomes unhealthy. Doubt can become toxic, just as certainty about faith can become toxic.
We had a great discussion surrounding this idea of becoming so closed off with our doubts or certainty of faith; we can become closed off to what others have to say. One both sides, doubt and certainty, we can alienate those who are looking for discussion on the topic of doubt and faith.
If we take a look at scripture we can see some real doubt in action! Check out the prayer we find in Psalm 88. Most of the Psalms are filled with prayers that question, doubt and express anger toward God. These are called laments, and over a third of the Psalms in scripture are like this.
Psalm 88:1-9, 13-18
You can also find Jesus’ prayer of lament in his words from the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46) And the story of Thomas and the other disciples in John 20:24-29.
The importance of the story of Thomas often becomes the final statement “blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” But think about Jesus’ response to Thomas. Jesus invites Thomas into the doubts, he doesn’t respond negatively to Thomas, but says “Peace be with you!” and invites Thomas to put his finger in his hands, and his hand into his side. Doubt led to trust.
Over all the night was great, our discussion wrapped up with some scenarios we may come across in our real life, we talked about how to interact with people who may have different understandings of how doubt works in our lives. We ended with the understanding that working through our doubts with a community of other people is an important part of building up our faith and using doubt to spur us on in our understanding of how God is working in the world around us.