Like all Christians, there had been many times when I’d questioned or doubted my faith. In fact most of the churches I’ve been to didn’t consider it a shame to admit to doubt. One church in particular loved to quote “honest doubt leads to true faith”. While I won’t go so far as to say they encouraged doubt, they didn’t say it was a bad thing and those to admitted to having doubts were encouraged to ask the questions because if you don’t ask the question, there is no one who is going to give you an answer.
This attitude of not fearing doubt is still one that I consider worthy and honest.
I remember one group conversation where I expressed the opinion that everyone should question their own beliefs. This was met with unanimous agreement, so I am glad to say that I am not alone in holding that view.
Of course, those who wish to control others will always fear and discourage doubt, especially doubt in those they have a hold over. In those situations, doubt brings about the potential of freedom, freedom from manipulative others. I am very aware and saddened that some churches have (and even still do?) act like that. I have a suspicion that one of the churches my family attended when I was a child had a senior pastor like that. That is not ground I wish to cover though, it was many many years ago and suspicion is not proof and I don’t really have a way of confirming that suspicion. I am judging events of long ago from a cynical adult mind when the memories I am working from are those of a child not even 8, possibly younger. That’s hardly fair.
As an adult, I have not consciously been in the situation, where I have been manipulated so I am thankful of that.
Enough of that, back to the doubt.
Doubt is good, it makes one ask basic questions about their own assumptions. Sometimes it will serve to confirm and sometimes it will serve to correct. The important thing is that stuff is not being taken for granted, it is being questioned and assessed.
Fear of this process is unhealthy. If your belief (no matter what it is) can’t survive the process of honest questioning, then its not a valid belief and you are living a life with little integrity.
Even as a Christian I can honestly say that I would rather have a friend who was an atheist with integrity than one who was a Christian without. You can swap that around now that I’ve left my faith behind, I’d rather have a friend who is a Christian with integrity than an atheist without. It’s the integrity that matters, not the belief.
Someone who fears or runs away from doubt lacks that integrity.