Despite Doubt: Belief
What is the relationship between Belief and Faith? It may be seen However this knowledge which is now a belief might come under attack because of disobedience and this leads to another kind of response of unbelief. If left unchecked at this time the belief is lost or doubt enters in again and the initial belief is modified. When beliefs are checked and rechecked what eventually happens with time is trust is built. And this trust is not a hunch based belief, but a knowledge based belief and eventually it is faith.as a linear process between belief to knowledge to belief/faith. But with doubt and disobedience interjecting between these. Belief is an initial idea offered and thought about. .”I think so.” But the challenge is then doubted in two ways—intellectually- there is uncertainty and emotionally there is fear. But when this initial ‘I think so” has been checked and rechecked and then understood and accepted as knowledge, the initial idea becomes a justified true belief.
There are challenges in this path because we have doubts in many situations and often these are at the same time as when we question our unbelief. We wonder what it is that we really know and believe.
But what do you believe? If you look outside and see a dark cloud you might say that I believe it will rain. But is this by interpretation or is this based on knowledge? Just what do you think? Based on black clouds forming in the sky and the winds which pick up, it will most likely rain. Because this is its usual pattern to do. But to believe it—is knowledge which is trustworthy.
What about God? Hebrews 11:6 Anyone who comes to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Mark 9:22-24. A father brings his son to Jesus to be healed. He put his fears and frustration directly to Jesus. If you can do anything, take pity on us and help us. Jesus responds: If you can? Everything is possible for him who believes. The father quickly corrected himself. “I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief.”
Our faith influences belief. And so we might find ourselves between these places—unbelief and faith. But it is how we respond to what occurs that enables us to grow.
We need to doubt/ to question as a believer. Doubt is the stumbling pursuit of faith. We lurch between faith and unbelief all the time. By our troubled questions, it still shows that we still believe a lot.
Martin Luther struggled with doubts about his salvation. He sought full purity before God often badgering his confessors with trivialities of sin. He doubted salvation could be bought and wrote against these ideas in order to open dialogue. This lead to the Reformation of the Church and to the truth that we are justified by grace alone.
But if Luther had not struggled with doubts where would we be today? Doubt is not the enemy of faith because we may respond with hope and gratitude because of it.
REFLECT for a moment and respond:
If it is true that our choices and actions influence our beliefs, what have your choices, for better or worse, set you up to believe? Are you overwhelmed by doubt? Pretend for a moment that you don’t believe in God, Jesus or the Bible, What new doubts must you struggle with then? What steps can you take to maintain a thankful, hopeful attitude despite your doub?
Wonderful God, I believe in you and your unconditional love for me. Help me to grow in knowledge and faith and to see that through faith in you I may continue to grow closer to the One who died and rose for me. I believe O God, help my unbelief. Hear my prayer as speak to me in the silence of my heart. Amen.
Michael E Wittmer, Despite Doubt: Embracing a Confident Faith ch.8,9,10