For those who are struggling with intellectual doubts:

Focus attention only on the issues that make or break the core essence of Christianity such as the resurrection of Christ and the existence of God. Don’t spend time on more ancillary issues such as creation/evolution, the world-wide flood, or the perfect harmony of the individual authors’ truth claims. These, either way you go with them, do not effect the essence of the Gospel message. If Christ rose from the grave as an historical reality, then all else, though they may shake, crack, or crumble, do not have the sting of apostasy on board.

For those who are struggling with emotional doubt

Remember that our emotions do not have a determinative vote in truth. We must be willing to trust God even when the truth claims we are asked to believe seem to militate against our moral compass. Remember that God gave us our emotional dispositions and he knows the struggles we have, yet he tells us that he loves everyone more than we do and knows what he is doing. In this sense, he holds out his hand and says “Trust me. I know you would do things different, but just trust me.”

For those struggling with experiential doubt

Remember that the lot life hands us will often be filled with experiences that differ from the experiences we would bring about were we in control of the world. Contrary to popular opinion, the Bible does not guarantee anything but suffering, pain, and perplexity as we attempt to live for God. This is why so much of the Bible points our thoughts to the unseen future that God has promised. Often times we “punt to the eschaton” not as a cop-out, but because in it is our true hope where tears will be no more.

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Find him on Patreon Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Join his Patreon and support his ministry

    9 replies to "One Paragraph Advice to Those Who Are Doubting Their Christian Faith"

    • Warwick

      What happens when your doubt doesn’t fit into one of these categories, Michael?

      When it talks in Matthew about those who were surprised to find they’re goats and not sheep?

      John Piper talks about those who think they’re elect, but they’re not.

      What happens when your doubt is about assurance of salvation?

      I can’t imagine a worse situation than being obedient and calling out for His grace only to have him ignore you, because in the recent words of Mark Driscoll, “God hates you”?

    • Barrett

      Punting to the eschaton is a huge bet. You’re giving up 80 years (give or take) of something you know and have right now, for infinite years that only Jesus has ever returned from, and his testimony has only been recorded in Scripture.

      So, in your words, nothing but suffering, pain and perplexity in exchange for an experientially unverifiable eternity, or live what you’ve got to its fullest.

      Thanks for your paragraphs, though. At least I know from your writing this isn’t a casual exercise for you.

    • Ed Kratz

      Barrett, looking to the future consumation of all things is really our only hope. Either way, life is going to deal us lots of bad hands. My point is that the Bible doesn’t say anything else. It gaurantees that trials and hardship are what awaits us here. When experiential doubt peeks, it is normally in the form of “If God were real, then these things would not be happening.” However, since the Bible says that these things must take place, then all we have left is the eschaton. It is our true hope as sin will be finally done away with.

    • Val

      Michael, read the new Barna study – it isn’t the reasons you listed that cause young people to leave/struggle, it’s the lack of living like Christ they witness in believers/ their churches. It’s great to preach about who might end up in hell (apparently Piper and Driscoll from an earlier comment) but a lot harder to have a church that looks like the heart, hands and feet of Jesus. Also, all the duck and cover that pastors do with hard questions, all the “don’t worry about it” that gets said, eventually feels patronizing to believers and they begin to doubt the leaders have a real faith, since they can’t manage the “hard” stuff. Or, worse, give silly unintelligent answers.

    • John Bailey

      Michael, thank you. This is excellent and terse enough to print out and carry around in my wallet (I have a bad memory).

    • JWY

      Val, you might want to trump CMP’s thoughts with Barna’s opinions, but Paul in Romans 1 seems to think otherwise. You do make some decent points, and I think many, including CMP would agree to much of what you said. Hypocrisy in the church is and has always been an issue, nothing new there. But it is not, never has been, and never will be a legitimate excuse for unbelief.

    • JWY

      Warwick, you said

      “I can’t imagine a worse situation than being obedient and calling out for His grace only to have him ignore you, because in the recent words of Mark Driscoll, “God hates you”?”

      Well, Paul seems to say (1 Cor. 15:19) the same thing CMP is saying. Perhaps you should qualify your statement about ‘obedience.’ Surely you don’t think that by being ‘partially’ obedient at best and calling out for God to be gracious, that He is in any way obligated to do anything. Or do you?

    • Richard

      This is a helpful post.

      There’s a typo in the first paragraph. You meant to say that Christ rose from the grave (not from the grace).

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