There are a few Christian ministries popping up here and there that are dedicating themselves to ministering to doubters, one such ministry is called Credo House which has recently hosted a few podcast programs and blogs dedicated solely to being a haven for Christian doubters looking to restore their faith. I contacted one of the ministers involved with this organization in order to offer to be a guest one of the pod-casts to give my testimony of leaving the faith. He wasn’t interested. I was surprised by the response because I thought this was an attempt at an honest examination of doubt and faith with the goal of giving people hope that, regardless of where you end up as a result of your doubts, the depression, fears, and suicidal thoughts that often accompany these events can eventually get better.
Before I really became entrenched in facing and realizing my doubts about the Christian faith I had certainly dealt with doubts before. Small things like the Trinity, Biblical lack of clarity on some subjects, post or pretrib eschatology had made me question myself and the Bible in small ways but never in ways so ground-shaking as I eventually began to deal with. I recognize that many of my Christian friends deal with those same small issues and because of my own personal hindsight I recognize one of the main problems with the way believers of any faith deal with those doubts.
It seems that for the most part, when a person is faced with his or her doubts rather than intentionally seeking to determine what is true, that person instead intends to have their faith restored – despite what is or isn’t true. Obviously now I find fault in such an approach but I’ve recently recognized just how common this is. The ministry at Credo House seems to be a prime example of this, as it and others I’ve seen are focusing on helping with the emotional toll of doubt by attempting to confirm one’s faith rather than to actually confront one’s doubts. Though I believe that this is a massive improvement over the old “ignore it and it’ll go away” method the Church has been employing for years, it still fails the test of honesty and integrity – potentially making the fears and pain worse. Times of doubt shouldn’t be a time to confirm one’s faith, but a time to embrace doubt and explore it fully!
I know that I personally wanted to believe, I didn’t want to face a world where my understanding of it was wrong or where my personal God didn’t exist – my prayer and goal was for god to help my unbelief – not to seek out what was true. It wasn’t until I determined that truth was more important than comfort that I was actually able to truly experience my doubts. The decision that ultimately led to my freedom from the suffering of doubt was to be willing to accept even that which I feared most – the possibility that god was merely a figment of my imagination.
I think that any attempt to help doubters find hope and comfort when all of the options are not on the table is a faulty one and destined for failure, which is why, as I’ve reached my hand out to those experiencing doubt I’m willing and able to turn off the “atheist agenda” (an agenda I’ve never denied) in order to provide as unbiased an environment as a hurting doubter might need. What is important isn’t that someone comes to the same conclusions that I have, it’s that these people survive what is likely to be the most difficult experience they’ve ever faced. I’m having an incredibly difficult time finding Christians that are willing to do the same by not simply representing their side or their arguments; but to simply provide as much comfort as possible and an assurance that regardless of where doubt leads you the experience you are having is normal and OK.
If your outreach to people struggling in their faith is a crash course in Christian apologetic then I’m afraid that you are doing it wrong and you are forgetting that these are people here – not just jewels in your heavenly crown. I honestly know just how difficult it is to step away from a position so fundamental to your being, but I think it is a necessity and you will be willing to do so if you truly care. I want to believe that many of you do but because of an unwillingness to do this for your own times of doubt leaves you without an understanding of just how important it is that you love the people you try to help regardless of the outcome as one of the greatest fears I had as a doubter was that I wouldn’t be loved by the believers around me.
My challenge, to anyone interested in reaching out to people in the positions I’ve described is simple: Don’t push them where you want them to go even if you believe the eternal consequences are irreparable , just care enough to listen and provide as much comfort as you can in this one life we are absolutely sure we have. I promise to always do this – please do the same.
***If you are struggling with doubts of any sort and you don’t know where to turn I can be contacted via my email ***