What do you do when you have doubts about God or your faith? Doubt can be a good thing if it moves us forward. I had a lot of doubts about Christianity and I did not do anything with those doubts for years except to become a skeptic. Doubt can be a terrible thing if it causes us to settle as a permanent skeptic.
So what do we do with our questions and doubts? Do we move forward and find answers or run in fear?
Charles Templeton vs. Billy Graham—Why the difference?
I had gone through a conversion experience as an incredibly green youth. I lacked the intellectual skills and the theological training needed to buttress my beliefs when – as was inevitable – questions and doubts began to plague me…. My reason had begun to challenge and sometimes to rebut the central beliefs of the Christian faith. -Charles Templeton
Charles Templeton was set to become the greatest evangelist of the 20th century, but he abruptly walked away from God and the Christian faith because he could no longer live with the doubts that had developed in him. He went on to become a vocal atheist in the books that he wrote.
Before he died Charles Templeton told Lee Strobel, in an interview for the book “The Case for Faith,” that even though he didn’t believe in God anymore he missed Jesus. How horribly sad that statement is. Jesus is God and he came to show us the person of God. Jesus is where all of our questions and doubts can be taken and this is where we will find answers and peace. We can only get to know him by reading and studying his teachings found in the Bible and through time in prayer.
Where Charles Templeton went wrong:
- His prayer life was questionable, he struggled with his doubts but never said he prayed over his doubts.
- He went to Princeton for help, but at a liberal seminary he only had his doubts reinforced.
- He did not pursue classic Christian theology and doctrine.
- He did not make God’s Word (the Bible) his first priority and the ultimate authority.
- He did not allow for Jesus’ sacrifice to be personal for him.
- He did not persevere through his trials trusting outcomes to God.
- He gave up and walked away from God—God did not leave him, he left God.
All of us want somebody to love us. Well, I want to tell you that God loves you. He loves you so much that he gave us his Son to die on the cross for our sins. And he loves you so much that he will come into your life and change the direction of your life and make you a new person, whoever you are. -Billy Graham
Billy Graham, Templeton’s good friend, did become the greatest evangelist of the 20th Century! When Billy Graham suffered through times of doubt, and he did, he went out to a quiet place, opened his Bible and asked God to help him. Through prayer and the study of God’s Word Billy Graham has been a role model to millions and as of this post is still actively ministering in his late 90’s.
Where Billy Graham got it right:
- He is honest with God about his doubts.
- He puts prayer first.
- He puts God’s Word as the ultimate authority in his life.
- He puts Jesus’ life example and teachings as ultimate truth.
- He puts Jesus’ sacrifice as sufficiency for grace.
- He perseveres with God through trials, relying on the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God.
- He never gave up and walked away He trusted God’s purpose for his life.
The result: A legacy that lives on through his family who you can find in Christian service all over the world today, and through those who have listened to his preaching over the last century. He has been a warrior for the Kingdom of God and an instrument for the salvation of so many. His faithfulness and commitment to God has been awe inspiring.
Father, I am going to accept this as Thy Word—by faith! I’m going to allow faith to go beyond my intellectual questions and doubts, and I will believe this to be Your inspired Word. –A prayer by Billy Graham
… vast crowds came to hear him preach and to be healed of their diseases. But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer. –Luke 5:15-16
There are three places I researched in the Bible where individuals had doubts (and there are others). John the Baptist (Matthew 11), the man whose son was demon possessed (Mark 9:21-24), and Jesus’ own disciple Thomas (John 20:24-31). Read about them and see how Jesus responded to their doubts. You will discover that doubt is OK, we just cannot stay there, we must move forward and search for the answers just like these guys did.
Jesus said to his disciples after the Resurrection: Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.
To combat doubt and increase our faith it is of vital importance to have a life skill of daily prayer and Bible reading. It is also of vital importance to stay on the journey of faith through worship and Bible study with other believers. There are only two choices in this life either we walk through it with Jesus or we do not, there is no middle ground, he did not give us that option.
If you want to read or watch more about Charles Templeton and Billy Graham get the book or DVD by Lee Strobel called The Case for Faith, or you can watch The Case for Faith on Vimeo.
For more on the life of Billy Graham in his early years click here to watch the movie on YouTube: Billy Graham
You will not find this material in the public school curriculum even though it is based on solid evidence and grounded in research. It is ironic that following the evidence to where it leads stops at the door of our public schools as they will not let a “Divine footprint” in!
Join us this year as we examine evidence for Christianity and learn how to become a thoughtful defender and ambassador of your faith.
Click into the resource page of this website to view many of the top Christian thinkers and apologists along with some of their work; connecting to these types of resources is essential in your Christian growth.
Please let me know what you think: Give feedback, ask questions or send concerns in the comment section of the blog.