…and have mercy on those who doubt Jude 22
Doubts are real. Some have doubts that keep them from faith. Others have doubts that continually nag their faith. Doubt need not prevent or corrode true faith but it needs the right prescription. True doubt is predicated upon faith in that it would not be possible to doubt unless there were something out there which is worth believing. And so “doubt comes into the world through faith” as Kierkegaard once scrawled in one of his journals.
Doubt ought not to be condemned. It is not necessarily corrosive to Christian faith to ask tough questions, wrestle with what we read in the Bible, or even swallow hard on some difficult aspects. Often doubts are stepping stones on the path to greater faith. We even have an Apostle know for his doubts (although he recovered and made a great confession). So doubt ought not to be condemned or the doubter vilified.
But neither should doubt be congratulated. Living in the “age of authenticity” as we do, often to doubt is to appear deep, real, or true to yourself. Wrestling with difficult questions of faith is a normal part of growing up as a Christian disciple. But to indefinitely chew upon questions is often a cover for a desire to not make commitments we ought to, or to pay the price for true maturity. (what better way to not take steps God wants us to take – in the realm of our sexual behaviour, our wealth, or our ambitions or the surrender of our self-interested autonomy – than to perpetually wonder if he can be known or heard from?)
Doubters are neither to be condemned as faithless nor congratulated as the authentically deep. They need mercy. That’s Jude prescription. And why not turn our doubtfulness upon itself. Why not doubt our doubts? Or better yet, doubt our own desires that may form hidden motivations for doubts? True and responsible doubting always leads to true and responsible searching. Undertaken in good faith such searching carries with it a promise that ought not to be doubted. Seek, and you shall find…