A quote from “Introducing Apologetics: Cultivating Christian Commitment” by James E. Taylor –
“Critics, Seekers, and Doubters
Audiences for Apologetics
Pilate: A Critic’s Insincere Questions
Pilate Models an Insincere Question (What Is Truth?)
Appeal to the Mind or Appeal to the Heart?
How Practical Reasoning Can Make Insincere People Sincere
The Ethiopian Eunuch: A Seeker’s Sincere Questions
How Seekers Recognize Their Limits and Needs
The Role of Mind and Heart in the Birth and Growth of Faith
How Doubts Can Creep In Even after Faith Takes Root
Thomas: A Doubter’s Sincere Questions
How Doubters Differ from Critics and Seekers
Doubt as Intrinsically Bad but Instrumentally Good
How Doubt Can Be Instrumentally Bad
The Causes of Doubt and the Treatment of Doubt
Among those with questions about Christianity are critics, doubters, and seekers. Since the minds and hearts of critics are closed, they ask insincere questions about the Christian faith. Their questions are motivated by a desire to resist Christian claims. Critics can become seekers by means of practical reasoning that opens their minds and hearts. Seekers ask sincere questions about the Christian worldview. Because seekers recognize their intellectual limits and their dependence on others for understanding, they have humble hearts and an attitude that can lead to faith. Doubters are Christians who have sincere questions about Christianity that prevent them from sustaining confident Christian belief. Though doubt is intrinsically bad, it can be instrumentally good. Doubt is instrumentally bad when it leads to permanent unbelief. How doubt should be treated depends on whether it is based in the mind or rooted in the heart.”
Greek II and Apologetics started up today. I began reading for Apologetics on Sunday. This morning, I appreciated chapter 6 in one of my four apologetic texts…just the chapter preview above was inspiring in itself.
If you have a broad spiritual range of friends, you probably can see them fitting into some of the ranges of doubt and criticism. I keep reminding myself not to put anyone into a category, but to simply be aware that people around me may be struggling with doubts and who may need a friend who can struggle with them through the doubts. I think Jesus’ response to Thomas’ doubts are a good example to us. Jesus didn’t ridicule or reject but offered Thomas the opportunity to express and confront his doubts and to overcome them. Providentially, Thomas did overcome and did regain his faith. I have some friends who I hope will find the answers to their doubts too. I probably know some people who are critics like Pilate, but their story has not yet been fully written. I pray they become less like Pilate and more like Thomas.
Do you know any critics like Pilate? Doubters like Thomas? Is it hard to tell the difference between them? Do you see yourself as a Thomas or a Pilate type? What doubts about God do you or your friends have? How are you and/or they going about expressing and confronting (or dealing with) these doubts? Have you ever overcome any serious doubts?
Feel free to comment or send me an email if you would like to discuss any of your doubts. We are all in this journey together, so do not feel like you have to wrestle with your doubts alone! I may not be able to help you overcome, but I can certainly pray for you and ask the Overcomer to help you. Jesus has experience with helping those who doubt.