Christians have a problem with doubt.

Or more precisely, we have a problem coming to terms with doubt. In Christian circles, it is common to hear of someone confessing doubts about the truth of Christianity. These doubts are usually expressed with great trepidation, as if having them makes one a lesser Christian. The response from the church is often to attempt to shore up the doubter’s faith through rapid-fire appeal to various rational arguments, many of them of poor quality. At other times, the church assumes that the doubter is having an emotional reaction rather than an intellectual problem, and attempts to provide support on a purely emotional level. In small groups and bible studies, the Christian who expresses doubts often finds himself beset by every other member of the group, each offering his or her ten second proofs of the correctness of the Christian religion.

Christians today have a problem with the way we view doubt. We view doubt as a flaw, a sign of weakness. We view it as something to be corrected by more belief.

But doubt is not necessarily a bad thing. Doubt is a tool used to determine the truth or falsehood of a proposition. Descartes used methodological doubt to find an absolute truth that he could build a philosophy on. Doubt properly applied is used to strip away unfounded assumptions, so only that which can be supported remains. Rather than being a weakness, doubt is a basic tool of logical reasoning.

In order for doubt to be an effective tool, it must be properly utilized. That is, it must be used in conjunction with reason. Doubt without reason is emotionally based, while doubt with reason is a tool for determining truth.

Unfortunately, many Christians today seem to place all doubt in the emotional category, while ignoring its applications in determining truth.  This is part of a wider rejection of intellectual approaches to religion in contemporary western culture. Such an approach tends to attract people to Christianity through emotional appeal. However, as these new Christians mature in their faith, they begin to ask questions and express doubts. They begin to look for the “solid food” Paul describes in Hebrews 5:13-14. And they do not find it in churches which focus on emotional appeals. Rather than viewing a lack of blind faith as a problem, the church should embrace doubt as a tool of logical reasoning. After all, if Christianity is true, what is there to be afraid of?