It's a familiar story. Or perhaps it should be. A young adult from a Christian family hits university and begins to have doubts, and is confronted with questions, about their previously unquestioned Christian faith.
Across the world similar stories are played out in young adults lives each year. And we find ourselves in a world characterised by scepticism. And especially a scepticism towards Christianity and organised religion.
In an environment of this nature we have a choice to be positive or negative about our approach to doubts and questions. These doubts can seriously contribute to a thriving mature faith. Or, alternatively, restrict our expression of Christianity.
Treating doubts about Christianity as a negative thing, some churches seek to avoid doubt. On a naÃ¯ve understanding doubt is the opposite of faith, thus you should not entertain doubts about the truths of Christianity. This is perhaps further perpetuated by the failure of many within churches to educate themselves with answers they can provide to intelligent and questioning youth.
Yet this attitude can have negative consequences in people lives. I know sceptically inclined young adults at university who avoid churches for reasons of lack of relevance, and I once counted myself among them.
When intellectual doubts are not addressed they fester and become emotional doubts and issues. This leads to a number of intelligent young people leaving the faith and can become much harder to address.
Thankfully, there is a much better way for Christians to approach the issue of doubt. This approach is to see doubt in many cases as something that can be turned positive, as a chance to focus our thinking on subjects that we need to study, and in so doing strengthen our faith.
Rest assured that in experiencing doubts you are not in bad company. Biblical figures that did so would include Job, Abraham, David, the apostle Thomas, and John the Baptist.
Rich with godly intellectualism
And in looking for answers to doubt you join a rich intellectual tradition of those who chose to honour God with their mind. And live in the vein of the Christian western intellectual tradition, the one upon which modern universities were founded.
After all, if Jesus is the truth, as he claims. We should then be confident to pursue truth even through difficulties and doubting, knowing that God is the God of all that is true.
An unflinching pursuit of what is both true and good should bring us back to the cross. And Christianity, if true, should have good evidence for its beliefs.
For many of us, of a certain personality inclination, some of the best moments in adding maturity and depth to our faith can come from working through our moments of doubt and finding answers.
And each and every one of us can become strong advocates for the gospel by always being ready to provide a defence of the hope that we have within us (1 Peter chapter 3, verse 15).
So do not flee your doubts, confront them and conquer them for the sake of loving God with your mind. And join the multitude of thinking Christians both today and throughout history that have done so.
For more resources on doubt I suggest checking out the Christian scholars Alister McGrath, Gary Habermas, or taking an interest in Christian Apologetics.
Peter Rope is a Financial Economics and Theology graduate from Auckland
Peter Rope's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/peter-rope.html