How to Have Faith in God When You’re Plagued With Doubts
Yesterday I wrote about the distinction between legitimate faith and illegitimate fideism. Another useful distinction is the difference between belief that and faith in. (I generally use the terms ‘belief’ and ‘faith’ synonymously, so I could just as easily talk about ‘faith that’ or ‘belief in’. For the sake of clarity I will keep them distinct in this post.)
Belief that certain things are true, such as doctrinal statements, refers to intellectual ascent.
Faith in a person is something I do on a regular basis with my friends, and I do it on the basis of evidence. I have faith in my wife because she has proved her character to me.
A few months ago, a friend asked me how I can live out my faith so confidently and yet have so many doubts. I think this distinction is one key. It seems that God has established Himself as faithful in my life so I can unreservedly have faith in Him even when I am having difficulty believing that various aspects of my theology are true.
I certainly don’t have all this figured out. I have made it a matter of prayer a few months ago to try to sort through how to have a strong faith in even with my difficulties in believing that. It seems that the people who have a strong faith in also have (what I consider to be) morally culpable belief that. I just can’t do that. So I am still trying to figure out how to work this distinction out in practice. I suspect that it’s not quite as cut-and-dry as I am trying to make it. Yet I think it’s a valuable observation.