Friday, September 17, 2010

DEVOTION: The Foundation of Doubt

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. (2 Tim. 2:15)

“Because the Bible says so” is the least sufficient reason a Christian can give to a non-Christian. But it's the reason behind all things Christian in the end. For right or for wrong, someone at least thought the Bible said so. And yet, for right or wrong, I often doubt.

It's a frightening topic, somewhat taboo in some circles, functioning as a badge of coolness in others. Both perspectives can be a means of recognizing the value of trusting even when we don't know. If God is good and God is God, Christians should be able to trust Him whether we have it all figured out or not. On the other hand, our means of expressing blind faith should never shut down the exploration of doubt. Speaking in human terms, doubt is the engine of faith.

How can I say that?

My husband Dave is known for coming up with pithy gems of wisdom. We were talking once about how people decide when to doubt, and he said: “Yeah, doubt has to be based on something.”

Ah, I hear an adventure calling. What could be more fundamental than doubt? Surely doubt is the great reconciler of conflicting certainties, the bottom line. After all, who am I to say the other guy’s truth isn’t true, even if it contradicts ours? That’s so not humble. I could be wrong, you know.

But if I leave it there, then there it ends. All truth is relative. I may deduce nothing, even from a plain reading of the Scriptures, nor may it inform my inferences.
What is truth? (John 18:38)
A famous personage said that one, and shrugged and turned away; and I believe I stand in his shoes before the mob if I join him in his viewpoint, asking to be commanded by popular opinion according to the mood of the moment. There’s a corresponding cliche that the only true humility toward God, or life, or others, is a stance of doubt; yet it doesn’t reference genuine doubt, only a decision not to examine. This is the doubt rejected in Scripture as unbelief.
You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. (Jer. 29:13)
Genuine doubt is based on a fundamental, underlying truth: there are functional means of examining if and when a thing is true, how often that turns out to be the case, and whether the factors involved are consistently correspondent or variable, or somewhere in between. I may not know for sure about a lot of things, but to get through daily life, I constantly infer what's mostly true, true enough, or a pragmatic substitute for certain truth when none can be found.
Lord, I believe; help my unbelief. (Mark 9:24)
If doubts are founded on inference, there is room to doubt our doubts, to question whether they’re founded on correct presuppositions. We can question what we really know about that grey frontier where reliable inference fades from grasp. If we do not doubt our doubts, we are operating on a form of faith — one that stands in opposition to the truths which undergird doubt.

It was out in that grey space, in doubting my unbelieving doubts, that I unexpectedly encountered God.

Cathi-Lyn Dyck is a freelance writer and editor living on the Canadian prairies. She has been eclectically published in the realms of homeschooling, Christian speculative fiction and gardening humor. A former atheist and feminist who came to Christ in 1995, she runs a weekday blog on Christian thinking, life and culture at


  1. "Doubt has to be based on something.”
    Thank you for this thought-provoking statement Cathi-Lin.

  2. Thank God for his faithfulness even when we doubt.

  3. Thanks for the feedback, gals. :~) I was away this weekend at the ACFW conference, where I got to hang out with Valerie Comer and shake hands with Mr. Harry Kraus. That gentleman gives a pretty sweet morning devotion.