No Doubt?

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When do we stop being spiritual seekers? Certainly, through a faith commitment to Jesus, we move from the theological category "lost" to the category "found." But does the seeking ever truly end? Should it?

I've often heard it said that Job was a hero because, though he suffered greatly, he never questioned God. Oh really? I wonder if people who say this have ever actually read some of the things Job said out of his anguish. Have they read his expressions of agony, his wrestling, his frustration, his sense that God was not even listening? The message of the book of Job certainly isn't "never question God." For me personally, one of the strongest messages of the book of Job and its inclusion in the canon of Scripture is the brutally honest acknowledgement that confusion—serious, painful confusion … and suffering … and questioning … and doubt … and inner turmoil—are part of the human experience. They are part of any human's relationship with God. There are moments of confusion and darkness for all of us.

Yet there's an implicit expectation in the church that Christian leaders are to be somehow immune to this. Pastors, missionaries, parachurch workers, Bible study leaders—they certainly never have doubts, right? And if, for some strange reason they did have doubts, they absolutely should never mention them to anyone.

I have noticed one exception to this general rule.

I've occasionally heard brave and honest men and women share publicly about times of doubt in their lives—but it has always, without exception, been after the fact. In other words, once you've made it through a time of spiritual difficulty or theological wrestling, then (and only then) is it okay to talk about it.

Have you ever heard a pastor or ministry leader stand up and say, "Right now my spiritual life is a mess. Right now I'm really wrestling with some logical/ethical/spiritual/Scriptural issue, and I'm not sure where I'll land. Right now I feel like God has abandoned me. Right now I'm waiting for proof/an answer/comfort/satisfaction."

I never have. After all, it'd be quite dangerous. It could possibly even be contagious! It could lead non-Christians to think this life with Jesus isn't all its cracked up to be. It could lead immature Christians to give up their faith. And it certainly would lead some in the church to question that person's qualifications for leadership.

August28, 2009 at 9:07 PM

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