"Question everything,” my generation has been told. To many millennials, doubting any information passed down to us comes as second nature. This characteristic gives us courage to ask hard questions and assurance that the answers won’t break any exterior system we’ve constructed. It allows us to tear down traditions and structures that hurt and oppress, and it helps us call into question the true motives of ourselves and others.
Yet my generation’s fixation on doubt and skepticism has also left us in a strange place. A place where our only certainty now is that we are all uncertain and perfectly fine to stay that way. While there is much good that can come from understanding that no one is capable of describing or fully understanding objective truth, this doesn’t negate the reality of truth. Yet we tote skepticism as our new Modus Operandi. Unknowing is the new knowing, and for many American Christians, doubt or skepticism has become synonymous with or at the very least, integral to faith. Skepticism concerning the God of Scripture is a new creed many Christians wave proudly, a rallying cry that we are finally stepping up and getting with the times. Yet here’s the rub: we are creatures hardwired to know truth, to be assured of the permanence of something. Left without this assurance, it doesn’t take long until we begin to construct, unearth or redefine truth on our own terms. As Christians, when we equate or combine doubt with faith, we will inevitably lose sight of the purpose of both.
Key to this confusion is first and foremost a confusion of the definition of faith, most commonly diagnosed within either the purpose of faith and the object of faith. Scripture speaks repeatedly about justification by faith. We are “justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 3:24). Faith is neither a lifestyle nor a work, but a gift from God alone. It follows, then, that this gift is not faith in faith nor faith in oneself.
When we are unsure of who God is, it’s to Christ that He tells us to look.
The gift of belief is aimed solely at the object of Jesus Christ, the one Savior and Redeemer in Whom we are made whole once again. Through faith, we trust that Christ is who He says He is—at once full deity and full man. Through faith, we trust that only through His life, death and resurrection do we have the promise of salvation. Through faith we trust that it’s Christ who shows us God’s true nature, and without the incarnate Son come to live, die and rise amongst us, God would remain shrouded in mystery.
So if faith is a gift from God through the Holy Spirit (the only means by which we trust in who God says He is) we must hold skepticism about God as contradictory to rather than necessary for faith. Doubt is an elemental consequence of the fall in Eden. In questioning God, Adam and Eve asserted themselves and enacted their own commands and promises in place of trusting God’s will. And thus, doubt comes quite naturally to all of us. The fallen person, or every person, assumes she can know all, or perhaps more commonly today, that she can at least question and investigate all in order to rule out that which truly contradicts her natural reason. Ironically, it’s exactly when we put faith in our own reason and intellect that we lose our ability to confront doubt. We forget that an infinite God is unknowable by our limited reason and so we settle instead for a god of our choosing. We make this god out of our own fabrications, and build a religion based on our own reason or our own doubts.
Doubt Comes Naturally
It should neither frighten nor upset us when we realize our doubts or the doubts of others. In this life, questioning the way God has revealed Himself to us is natural. It’s not going away anytime soon. So while praising and elevating our skepticism should be recognized for what it is—sin—we can also know and trust that God not only works through such doubts, He has provided the answer to them in the deity and humanity of Jesus Christ.
In a child who became man, the unknowable, omniscient God chose to reveal Himself in the physical and concrete world. When we are unsure of who God is, it’s to Christ that He tells us to look. It is Christ Who is central to the message of Christianity, for “if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins” (1 Cor 15:17). We know the heart and will of God solely through Christ’s sacrifice and death on the cross. “If you knew me, you would know my Father also,” Jesus tells us (John 8:19). His Word and His promise is made complete in Christ. And how we know Christ is not through meditations or musings, but through the written Word of God. We cannot give up on Scripture, for Scripture is where Christ is made known.
It is true that each of us will always have doubts and questions, but be confident that these are not what make your faith. It is because of the gift of your faith, so graciously given, that you can take your doubts and lay them at the feet of a God-made-man, where faith takes hold of each of us and does its work. So take your questions and your wavering reason to Christ and I’ll meet you there—for it is in Him alone where we’ll find the answers.