By Jamie Neben and AC Smith
During our recent guest appearance on the Jesse Peterson radio program, a question arose as to whether having doubt in matters of faith is considered to be a sin. I replied in the negative because we are all certain to be tested at various times, and periods of doubt are not only quite normal, but they are healthy too since we ultimately become stronger believers once we overcome that doubt. AC Smith quickly found the following biblical passage in an effort to set me straight:
“And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith; for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.”(Romans 14:23)
One can hardly argue with what seems to be such a clear statement, but I would at least prefer to understand the context in which it was made a little better. After all, we know that some words and meanings have been occasionally altered, if just slightly, in the course of interpretation and translation.
I understand that some people, especially during tough times, may be tempted to call God’s existence, love, or power into question. That’s not the kind of doubt I consider normal, and it should be met with strong spiritual support when it occurs. However, a believer may not always know whether they are following God’s plan, or may struggle with how much they apply their faith in an increasingly secular world.
I believe that having doubt is an unavoidable part of being human. We can recognize it, handle it, and be stronger for the experience. The absence of doubt is perfection. Only one person who ever walked the earth fit that category. And it’s not AC Smith.
Here are some historical quotes on the topic:
Chinese proverb – “With great doubts come great understanding; with little doubts come little understanding.”
Martin Luther – “Knowledge and doubt are inseparable to man. The sole alternative to “knowledge-with-doubt” is no knowledge at all. Only God and certain madmen have no doubts!”
George MacDonald – “Doubt can be a tool in God’s hand wielded, in the lives of those who allow it, for the strengthening, not the destruction of faith.”
AC Smith says:
I quote God! You quote man! When will you learn?
Although Martin Luther states that God has no doubt, it is wrong to compare God and a fool together as having common ground.
George MacDonald seems to suggest that doubt is a tool of God’s. How can God have doubt as a tool when God doesn’t have doubt?
All the quotes seem to be meant well, but that doesn’t make them right. These are only quotes from men who we admire, but we make the mistake, when we put man’s words above God’s. Always keep in mind that men are human and flawed.