"Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ." - Jerome

Monday, September 24, 2007

Doubt: The companion of faith

“I believe, help my unbelief.” - Mark 9:24

Many believers are told their doubt is not normal as a Christian. Doubt perhaps shows they really are not a Christian. To all those of little faith a Southern Baptist minister is quoted, at another site, as saying at the end of his sermon:

“If you’re not 100% sure that you are saved…if you are 99% sure, but have even 1% of doubt, then I want you to come forward this morning and repent. You need to rededicate your life to Christ.”

Sola fide run amok! Is faith binary: either a 0 or 1, either on or off? I thought to balance this quote with a little quotation on doubt I found illuminating in one of my classes. I will wait until the end to tell you who said it:

We ought not to seek any more intimate proof of this than that unbelief is, in all men, always mixed with faith. [cf. Luke 24:11-12] …While we teach that faith ought to be certain and assured, we cannot imagine any certainty that is not tinged with doubt, or any assurance that is not assailed by some anxiety. On the other hand, we say that believers are in perpetual conflict with their own unbelief. …In the course of the present life it never goes so well with us that we are wholly cured of the disease of unbelief and entirely filled and possessed by faith. Hence arise those conflicts; when unbelief, which reposes in the remains of the flesh, rises up to attack the faith that has been inwardly conceived. But if in the believing mind certainty is mixed with doubt, do we always come back to this: that faith does not rest in a certain and clear knowledge, but only in an obscure and confused knowledge of the divine will toward us? Not at all! For even if we are distracted by various thoughts, we are not on that account completely divorced from faith. Nor if we are troubled on all sides by the agitation of unbelief, are we for that reason immersed in its abyss. If we are struck, we are not for that reason cast down from our position. For the end of the conflict is always this; that faith ultimately triumphs over those difficulties which besiege and seem to imperil it. (John Calvin, The Institutes 3.2.4,17,18)

Doubt is an evidence that there is a faith to doubt. While we chase assurance, we are all reminded to pray the prayer of Mark 9:24, “I believe, help my unbelief” for '100% total assurance' is a façade we might fake because we think we are supposed to, or a delusion we might imagine, but it is a fish we will never catch and demon we will never cast out this side of glory, when faith becomes sight. Though doubt is common, we still pray "help my unbelief."

1 comment:

M. Jay Bennett said...


When this insight came to me through the Puritans, it was a huge relief and a big challenge.

Great post bro!