Advice for the “person who wants to believe, but they don’t, or are trying and they can’t.”
In this video Paul Washer says,
“True faith is not the elimination or removal of all doubt.”
This is considered by Paul Washer as a reliable approach to the truth claims of Christianity. Faith, or a desire to believe, is the recommended pathway to the truth. Now, let’s think this through a bit more. If true faith is not the elimination or removal of all doubt, is this then as a result setting one up to make a decision that isn’t sufficiently objective in nature?
In other words we have 1) The truth claims of Christianity being met with 2) A form of belief and/or faith that need not be arrived at in an objective manner. It can derive simply from some stated desire for Christianity to be true. Does this seem like a fair representation?
“Faith and repentance are both Christian virtues, now like all virtue they are subject to sanctification.”
What this appears to be implying is that a “faith approach” to the truth claims of Christianity just needs to start somewhere with something, namely, a desire to believe. From there sanctification is assumed to strengthen one’s belief over time.
Now, I have another relevant yet challenging question. Is this idea of sanctification arrived at objectively? If not, we can consider this belief to be an additional assumption that is arrived at subjectively. So, now we have the idea of exercising faith and assuming a process of sanctification as the recommended approach to the truth claims of Christianity.
Does this approach convey any potential for being logically problematic? Is this a reliable way to arrive at the truth? I’ll let my readers ponder that for themselves.
“The fact that you are now desiring God and wanting to know God is evidence that God is already at work in you. And He who began a good work in you will finish it.”
In response to this it can be asked, Pastor Paul, does one’s desire to believe and know a God truly make it evident that this God exists and is at work within people? So, with that reasoning, if one is desiring to believe and know one of the Hindu gods, is this evidence that one or more of the Hindu gods are at work behind the scenes? In the end, would Pastor Paul be willing to apply this standard outside of a Christian context? If not, perhaps this logic is more likely faulty and should be avoided?
“If you find that there is a desire to seek the Lord genuinely within you, He is already at work in you.”
Again, is this being offered by Pastor Paul from a place of objectivity or subjectivity? Which is more likely in this instance?
“It’s your prerogative to seek Him, (God), but it is His prerogative, when He decides, to be found.”
Now here’s another important question to add into the mix. Going by this logic, is it then up to each seeker of God to subjectively decide the moment at which they have found God? At which God decides to be found by them?
It needs to be asked, if this is the case, is this a reliable standard by which to arrive at the truth? It seems that people give many different subjective descriptions of what their so called “God moment” is or was. I’m brought to wonder, is this a way to discover truth or is this a way to cultivate and enhance belief out of some meaningful subjective experience or experiences?
“Where you are right now, with what you can believe Him, and how you can, follow Him, just, with whatever you have, keep going on, keep going on, keep going on, He’ll make Himself known to you.”
At this point, any objective seeker of the truth deserves to ask, how? How is this not potentially a recipe for erroneous thinking and belief? It’s a worthy question because the bar appears to be set rather low in this instance. Whatever one’s subjective experience of God becomes, no need to question. Latch on! The assumption is, “that’s God! That’s His voice, that’s His answer!” “That moment you had during worship, don’t forget that. That moment you were overwhelmed with feelings of hope and love, don’t forget that. Pick the mountain top moment, pick the heightened emotional experience, call it God and rest in faith. Rest in assurance. It’s more real than anything.” Well, maybe, maybe not, right?
“If you desire to be saved, you can be.”
Finally, I think I would slightly agree, however, the question is not whether one can become convinced that they are saved. That happens a lot. Especially with the type of questionable reasoning we’ve been examining here. The question is whether this is the reality of what is going on when people approach the claims of Christianity in this way? Are we encountering an approach to the truth that relies more or less on objectivity? What is the price that one pays in doing so? It’s a valid question, a valid question indeed.
My conclusion is that there is no issue or problem at all if one experiences doubt towards the truth claims of Christianity. In the larger scheme of things it’s good to ask, “Is Christianity guilty or not guilty of offering truth claims that can be arrived at objectively in the world? In my recent conversations with other Christians, most of them would agree with a ruling of “not guilty.”
I think that’s quite a significant admission. It means that people are arriving at their belief that Christianity is reliable, subjectively, rather than objectively. It’s a gamble. Well, if it is a gamble and a question mark on whether Christianity is true, is anyone really at fault for doubting? Perhaps in a case like that, this God would want to consider rewarding those who doubt? We are after all attempting to be cautious about how to best arrive at true beliefs.
Do we doubters and skeptics deserve a little credit? I guess we’ll find out sooner or later.