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Dealing with doubt


Finally finished up Doubt by Os Guinness.  Guinness is not an easy read but well worth the investment of the time.   This is a book that I started reading one day at a library more than ten years ago.  When I got home, I found a second-hand copy since it was published in 1976.  However, I just noticed that it was also published with the title In Two Minds. Still available from second hand re-sellers.

For Guinness, doubt is not a bad thing.  In fact, he says, “But if ours is an examined faith, we should be unafraid to doubt.  If doubt is eventually justified, we were believing what clearly was not worth believing.  But if doubt is answered, our faith has grown stronger still.” 11  Doubt is not the same as unbelief; “Doubt is a state of mind in suspension between faith and unbelief. . .”  19  That said, doubt needs to be resolved.  Says the author, “if faith does not resolve doubt, doubt will resolve faith.” 147

Guinness examines in detail, a chapter at a time, what he calls, five categories of doubt: Doubt from ingratitude, Doubt from a faulty view of God, Doubt from a weak foundation, Doubt from a lack of commitment, Doubt from lack of growth, Doubt from unruly emotions and Doubt from fearing to believe (due to scars from old wounds)  I appreciated his last two doubts; perhaps because these are where my doubts most often come.

In each chapter he presents some suggestions for resolving these doubts.  However in the third part of the book, he offers general principles to help those with doubts.  Listening is the foundation for all help we can give to those in doubt, followed by discerning, speaking and warning. The chapter on listening deserves a post of its own.

Finally, Guinness closes with two chapters that deal with Two Difficult Doubts.  One is the challenge to our faith when we do not understand what God is doing–when we are in darkness and must “suspend judgment.”  In the other, there is the temptation to doubt our calling when we are forced to wait.  In one, “faith stays true to God by not doing what it is tempted to do” and in the other “faith stays true to God by doing what it is tempted not to.” 223

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