I continued to replay the mental tape of my interview with Anderson as I flew back to Chicago on a half-empty flight that night. I found myself agreeing with his evaluation of the role of doubt. While it can be disconcerting, and although it can eventually become destructive if left untended, doubt clearly can have benefits. I resonated with the view of Gary Parker in his book The Gift of Doubt:
If faith never encounters doubt, if truth never struggles with error, if good never battles with evil, how can faith know its own power? In my own pilgrimage, if I have to choose between a faith that has stared doubt in the eye and made it blink, or a naive faith that has never known the firing line of doubt, I will choose the former every time.10
I would too. I knew that my fundamental trust in Jesus would be stronger, surer, more confident, more steadfast because it had been refined through the purifying fire of doubt. In the end, despite questions, challenges, and obstacles, my faith would not just survive, but it would thrive.
Then my thoughts wandered to Charles Templeton. Were his intellectual objections to God really responsible for dismantling his faith-or was there something lurking beneath those doubts, some unspoken, subterranean motivation that was secretly fueling his challenges to Christianity? There was no way for me to be sure. I had no desire to poke around in his private life to try to find out. At this point, the best I could do would be to continue to take his objections at face value.
There was another important implication of Anderson's interview. If doubt and faith can coexist, then this means people don't have to fully resolve each and every obstacle between them and God in order to have an authentic faith.
In other words, when the preponderance of all the evidence tilts decisively in God's favor, and a person then makes the rational choice to put their trust in him, they can hold some of their more peripheral objections in tension until the day comes when they're resolved. In the meantime, they can still make the choice to believe-and ask God to help them with their unbelief.
Was this article helpful?