Between Faith and Doubt

Five Questions for Our Skepticism

I was raised in an environment of skepticism, during a time of questioning, amid a culture that preferred sarcastic mocking over serious thinking. We liked simplistic slogans more than complex considerations. We loved to point out religious hypocrisy but rarely turned the light of inquiry on our own assumptions.

On top of all this, I was raised in a Jewish family who firmly believed that “Jews don’t believe in Jesus.” So, to say the least, I had many doubts about the Christian faith my friends encouraged me to consider. After all, it was hard to give much credence to a religion that supposedly dominated Germany as it incinerated six million of my fellow Jews. A “Christian nation” thought they had found “the final solution” to the world’s problems: get rid of people like me.

So, I sympathize with doubters who may feel drawn to Christianity but find plenty of objections to keep them at arm’s distance. If you’re drawn to the message of Jesus but can’t seem to get past your doubts, perhaps it would be helpful if I share how I worked through some of my doubts.

Out of Absurdism

As I’ve said, many factors pointed me away from accepting the Christian faith. In addition to those already mentioned, I immersed myself in absurd literature and comedy for several years as I began my university studies. I mixed together an intellectual cocktail of Samuel Beckett, Kurt Vonnegut, and Woody Allen — with large quantities of alcohol added in. It made for a lot of laughs, even more smirks, and a great deal of what felt like fun. But there were hangovers as well — and not just from the alcohol. After the intoxication of laughter wears off, absurdism leaves the mind and heart with existential emptiness.

Immersed in meaninglessness, I continued to seek something transcendent in the world of music. I attended concerts, practiced, performed, and listened desperately, hoping to find a portal to the supernatural or divine. But every piece, every concert, every experience left me disappointed.

I was experiencing the kind of chronic disappointment C.S. Lewis describes in his book Mere Christianity, in the chapter titled “Hope.” Although I had not read anything by Lewis at that point, my life bore out the truth of what he said. Since even my best experiences proved unsatisfying, I could essentially respond in one of three ways:

  1. I could embrace godless hedonism and keep trying to chase momentary intoxicating pleasures.
  2. I could embrace cynicism and reject any hope that life might have some ultimate meaning.
  3. I could embrace the possibility, as Lewis so eloquently puts it, that “if I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world” (Mere Christianity, 136–37).

Since the third response is the only one that gave me hope, it propelled me to read a copy of the New Testament that friends had given me years before. In it, I found Jesus to be compelling, brilliant, challenging, and transformative. Though my objections and doubts did not simply disappear, the power of Jesus’s message and life began to overshadow the doubts. He tipped — and continues to tip — the scales for me.

“Where will your current beliefs lead in the future, especially at the end of your earthly life?”

I also immersed myself in pursuing answers to my questions, insisting on finding the best arguments available. Although some of that reading seemed dry compared to the splendor of Matthew’s Gospel, it was necessary. I needed to sufficiently address my doubts about the reliability of the Bible, the historicity of the resurrection, the validity of New Testament interpretation of Old Testament prophecy, and several other crucial issues. But eventually, I found the arguments in favor of Christianity more compelling than the arguments against it.

Five Clusters of Questions

As I pursued answers to my questions about Christianity, I also found myself asking questions of my own skepticism. Instead of only questioning faith, I started to doubt my doubts. In the process, the foundations of my own unbelief began to feel more brittle.

If you find yourself in a similar place, intrigued by Jesus but kept back by questions, I would encourage you to doubt your doubts and explore faith in Christ with an open mind. Here are five clusters of questions that may help.


Where do you fit on the spectrum between “I know all about Christianity” and “I hardly know anything at all”? What do you already accept about the Christian faith — and why? What has convinced you of its plausibility?


Which parts of the Christian message are you doubting? What has prompted these doubts? Might there be factors other than sound reason that have triggered this current round of doubt? Those factors could include disappointment with God due to unanswered prayer, some disaster or suffering that felt like the last straw, the hypocrisy of Christians you know, or reports of Christians behaving non-Christianly.


Just how strong are the arguments in favor of your doubts? Have you talked about these arguments with someone you trust to give you honest feedback, or have you immersed yourself in an echo chamber of skepticism? Have you sought out the best arguments in favor of the Christian perspective — not merely the shallow, silly so-called “defenses” of Christianity?


Have you given greater credence to your own ability to reason than to numerous arguments in support of belief? Have you considered that you might be guilty of chronological snobbery — the belief that new arguments are superior to older, more “traditional” perspectives simply because they’re newer? What convictions form the backbone of your present way of thinking? And where will your current beliefs lead in the future, especially at the end of your earthly life? Does your skepticism produce hope, purpose, meaning, and strength?


If you were to believe (or return to belief), what would that look like for you? How might it change your life? What questions do you need to address? With whom can you process your doubts?

Overcoming Unbelief

Doubts still surface occasionally for me — especially upon hearing news of some terrible natural disaster or exposure of Christian hypocrisy. But the best biblical, serious, and thoughtful Christian responses to even the most painful challenges continue to outweigh my objections. I shudder to think of what my life would be like now if I had not abandoned absurdism, immorality, and overindulgences. I continue to marvel that God intervened with his hope, love, and grace.

I hope you’ll confront your doubts with the best that Christianity has to offer. Are you willing to echo the man who once said to Jesus, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief” (Mark 9:24 NIV)?