Doubt vs Unbelief

Jan 21, 2019
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I recently read a thought provoking article about doubt and unbelief!

When does doubt become unbelief? Answer: When you let it.


When you cling to unrealistic ideas about faith, when you


get hopelessly preoccupied with the doubts that are a


natural part of the Christian life, or when you fail to


allow your faith to grow. These pitfalls can all be avoided.
 

rtm3039

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I recently read a thought provoking article about doubt and unbelief!

When does doubt become unbelief? Answer: When you let it.


When you cling to unrealistic ideas about faith, when you


get hopelessly preoccupied with the doubts that are a


natural part of the Christian life,
or when you fail to


allow your faith to grow. These pitfalls can all be avoided.
Hi. You should provide the link to the article, as it appears worth reading.
rtm3039
 

bobinfaith

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I recently read a thought provoking article about doubt and unbelief!
When does doubt become unbelief? Answer: When you let it.
Hello thorndale;

This is a great devotional to reflect on and pray when we battle doubts and unbelief. I let it! but don't have to and take ownership.

1 Peter 5:7-9, 7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.


John, if you want to add the article, please include the Copyright © Waiver in order to post part of all of the link.

Thank you so much for sharing.

God bless
you and your family.
 
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rtm3039

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Hello thorndale;

This is a great devotional to reflect on and pray when we battle doubts and unbelief. I let it! but don't have to and take ownership.

1 Peter 5:7-9, 7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.


John, if you want to add the article, please include the Copyright © Waiver in order to post part of all of the link.

Thank you so much for sharing.

God bless
you and your family.
This is a good article, assuming the article is: When Doubt Becomes Unbelief, Dr. Alister McGrath, Tabletalk Magazine, January 1, 1992. I went ahead and requested their permission to report this article, under their copyright provisions for digital media.. In particular:

  1. All, articles, devotionals, product descriptions, questions & answers, and the Ligonier blog located at Ligonier.org/etc. may be shared online if the original source is cited and the content is not altered. If you share any content from Ligonier.org on any website, a link to the original content must be included in the attribution.
  2. When reproducing resources with permission, please include the following information: Resource/Message Title (hyperlink to original content), Copyright [year of publishing] by [teacher's name], Ligonier Ministries (hyperlink to http://www.ligonier.org).
rtm3039
 
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Jan 21, 2019
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I didn't know that! 😢 Good to know.👍

I wonder if you just comment on the text as opposed to copying part of it into a post you would be legal?
 
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Pastor Gary

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To be honest with you, based on that I read, I believe it is "ok" to report the article, as long as proper credit and citation is used.

Ray
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That is correct - re-post as you wish, as long as the two line items you mentioned in post # 4 are included at the end of the post.
 

rtm3039

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Staff Note:
That is correct - re-post as you wish, as long as the two line items you mentioned in post # 4 are included at the end of the post.
In his article: When doubt becomes unbelief, Dr, Alister McGraph goes about explaining the prevalence of doubt, in religion, and describes how doubt can, if allowed, become disbelief. I have posted the entire article below, following by the appropriate citation:

Doubt
is not unbelief. But it can become unbelief. That basic principle should guide our reflections on this important issue. Doubt is natural within faith. It comes about because of our human weakness and frailty. We lack the confidence to trust fully in God and long for certainty in all matters of faith. But absolute certainty is hard to come by. You can be sure that 2 + 2 = 4, but is that going to change your life? Is that going to give you a reason to live and hope in the face of death? And it isn’t just Christians who are in this situation. The atheist’s belief that there is no God is just as much a matter of faith as your belief that there is! Doubt also comes about through our lack of humility. All of us are tempted to believe that because we haven’t got the answers to the hard questions of faith, then there aren’t any answers to those questions.

We need to learn to be relaxed about doubt. Doubt is like an attention-seeking child. The more attention you pay to it, the more attention it demands. By worrying about your doubts, you get locked into a vicious cycle of uncertainty.

So how does doubt become unbelief? Unbelief is the decision to live your life as if there is no God. It is a deliberate decision to reject Jesus Christ and all that He stands for. But doubt is something quite different. Doubt arises within the context of faith. It is a wistful longing to be sure of the things in which we trust. But it is not, and need not, be a problem. Just because I can’t prove my faith in God doesn’t mean that it is wrong.

But unbelief can creep in during those moments of doubt. How? Think of your faith as a lifeline to God. Think of it as being like an umbilical cord, linking you to God and providing a channel through which His life-giving grace can reach you. Sever that link and faith will wither, just as a branch which is broken off a vine shrivels and dies (John 15:1-6). Have you read C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters? If not, there is a real treat in store for you. But if you have, you will know how Lewis points out that Satan uses ploy after ploy to try to get Christians to break their links with God. Doubt is one of those ploys.

Think through what will happen if Satan can manage to get you obsessed with your doubts. You’ll start becoming introverted, as you become preoccupied with your doubts. You’ll look inwards, at yourself and your state of mind. And you will stop looking outwards, away from yourself and toward the promises of God, confirmed and sealed through the death and resurrection of Christ. The more you worry about your doubts, the less you will look to God. Gradually, those vital links with the life-giving grace of God will wither—and your spiritual life will wither and shrivel. Doubt will become unbelief—because you allowed it to. Feed your doubts and your faith will starve—but feed your faith, and your doubts will starve. Doubt initially becomes a problem, and finally becomes unbelief, if, and only if, you allow it.

Unbelief thus comes about through several possible routes. First, through an unrealistic attitude to faith. If you believe that you can, or need to, know everything with absolute certainty, your faith will be in difficulties very soon. But faith isn’t like that! Faith is about being willing to live, trusting in the existence and promises of God, knowing that one day, that existence and those promises will be totally vindicated. But for the moment, we walk by faith, not by sight.

Second, unbelief may come through a morbid preoccupation with doubt, by which you become so obsessed with your own mental states and feelings that God is shut out of your life. Give Him some breaks! Look outward, not inward! Look to the promises of God; savor them; accept them. Stop allowing your doubts to dominate your life. Doubt, seen properly, is just the darker side of faith; rediscover the “sunnier side of doubt” (Tennyson)—the joy of faith itself.

And third, unbelief may come through an immature faith—a faith which refuses to grow up. A weak faith is a vulnerable faith. The process of maturing as a Christian involves deepening our understanding of what we believe. As we grow older, we are meant to deepen our understanding of our faith. The things that bothered us when we were young in faith don’t bother us quite so much. In fact, if I might speak from personal experience, I now realize that most of my own early doubts simply reflected my inadequate understanding of my faith. As I grew older, I grew wiser—through reading, thinking, and listening to or reading wise Christians. Reinforce faith with understanding, in much the same way as you would reinforce concrete with steel. Together, they can withstand far greater stress than they could ever withstand on their own.

When does doubt become unbelief? Answer: When you let it. When you cling to unrealistic ideas about faith, when you get hopelessly preoccupied with the doubts that are a natural part of the Christian life, or when you fail to allow your faith to grow. These pitfalls can all be avoided. Don’t feel ashamed about your doubts. Talking them through with older and wiser Christians can be a vital safety valve which stops a head of doubting steam from building up—a head of steam which could eventually lead from normal doubt to the hopelessness of unbelief.

Reference:

McGraph, A. (1992). When Doubt Becomes Unbelief. Tabletalk Magazine, Retrieved March 10, 2019, from https://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/when-doubt-becomes-unbelief/.
 

bobinfaith

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I didn't know that! 😢 Good to know.👍

I wonder if you just comment on the text as opposed to copying part of it into a post you would be legal?
Hello thorndale;

No worries, sir. And absolutely, you can just comment on the text only if you choose to! For example, I will comment only, on an article by Billy Graham, instead of copying part or the whole article and posting. In that case I would have to include the copyright.

In the meantime, thank you for sharing your thoughts on Doubt and Unbelief. I needed that in my life this week and am looking forward to more comments to your thread.

God bless you and your family.
 
Jan 21, 2019
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Thanks, I appreciate that!

I know, and believe that God can not lie and when He promises salvation based on our acceptance & belief in the Birth, Death and Resurrection of Jesus, I can not help sometimes visualizing myself waiting for the words "enter my good and faithful servant" coming from the Lords mouth with some trepidation?

Weird right?

John
 
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Feb 24, 2011
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I recently read a thought provoking article about doubt and unbelief!

When does doubt become unbelief? Answer: When you let it.


When you cling to unrealistic ideas about faith, when you


get hopelessly preoccupied with the doubts that are a


natural part of the Christian life,
or when you fail to


allow your faith to grow. These pitfalls can all be avoided.
The strange thing about doubt, is that to have doubt one must already be off the fence on the wrong side. Now, that doesn't measure up the same way as unbelief, because one with unbelief has already turned their back to the truth. Doubt on the other hand can be felt on both sides of the fence, and even include hope and seeking which can lead to coming around to the right side of truth.

Thank God that He has a plan for both possibilities: If one knock in doubt...He still answers. If one is running the other way, God has been known to run after, to pursue, to gab hold, lay hands on one...or even lay them out, pick them up and set them running back the right way.
 

rtm3039

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The strange thing about doubt, is that to have doubt one must already be off the fence on the wrong side. Now, that doesn't measure up the same way as unbelief, because one with unbelief has already turned their back to the truth. Doubt on the other hand can be felt on both sides of the fence, and even include hope and seeking which can lead to coming around to the right side of truth.

Thank God that He has a plan for both possibilities: If one knock in doubt...He still answers. If one is running the other way, God has been known to run after, to pursue, to gab hold, lay hands on one...or even lay them out, pick them up and set them running back the right way.
"If one is running the other way, God has been known to run after, to pursue, to gab hold, lay hands on one...or even lay them out, pick them up and set them running back the right way." Yes, I believe I know this one personally.

rtm3039
 
Jan 21, 2019
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15
3
79
USA
"If one is running the other way, God has been known to run after, to pursue, to gab hold, lay hands on one...or even lay them out, pick them up and set them running back the right way." Yes, I believe I know this one personally.

rtm3039
The strange thing about doubt, is that to have doubt one must already be off the fence on the wrong side. On your hypothetical fence, Is one side saved (belief) and the other unsaved (unbelief)? Or is one side some doubt and the other side no doubt? My understanding is doubt is not the lack of faith but unbelief is the lack of faith! Can one slip to your wrong side of the fence by having some doubt in a theological issue? An example may be something like Jonah & the Whale? Was the Whale a big fish or was it a whale? I doubt if it was a whale but I believe it was a big fish? While I believe the story is the inspired word of God, if I doubt if it was a big fish or a whale, can I also doubt if Jonah actually survived in the belly of a big fish for 3 day's?
I guess my only question is, "What does the wrong side of the fence mean"?

John
 
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I read this somewhere. Doubt is questioning what you believe. Unbelief is outright rejection of a belief. Doubt is very common in the life of believers. We believe in God's promise. We doubt whether it would happen in our lives. Unbelief is not even believing there is a God! Can doubts lead to unbelief? Possibly. Too many questions on what we believe can cause us to change our belief itself. But I don't see that happen in a believers life. Because of Holy Spirit.