Doubting is an unpleasant phenomenon.

For pastors it can be an isolating experience as well. For those who live and work in realms that seem to require knowledge and confidence, having doubts threatens to undermine livelihoods and reputations.

How, then, should we handle doubt?

Defining our terms

First, it is important to define what we mean by doubt. Doubts are not questions. Questioning is a form of exploring, a searching out of the world. When we question, we acknowledge and confess our own ignorance—but the confession frees us to learn and grow. Doubts, however, are a wavering in the face of what is known. They are a hesitation to accept what is before us, a psychological unsettledness.

By conflating doubting and questioning, Christians have created environments that breed doubts and make them more difficult to resolve. We are naturally attuned to notice unknowns and to want to find them out. If we deny ourselves the freedom to explore and inquire, we'll find the pressure of doubt ...

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