“Doubt is part of all religion. All the religious thinkers were doubters. Any belief worth having must survive doubt” ~Isaac Bashevis Singer
Recently, I was contacted by a young lady who was confused about faith in relationship to the example her parents had set. I had received a number of email concerning the fact that in many Christians opinions, doubt is equivalent to sin. You may read it here: Newsvine - "How Can I Have Faith When I Watch My Parents Sin?" Beatitude Commentary
Unfortunately, we may read the English translation of what we call The Bible, The Gospels, and The Epistles, the English language leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to accuracy of though or feeling of the words that are translated from Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, and Latin. We English speakers fail to recognize the reason why many older languages include various nuances when it comes to the understanding of concept or emotion in each individual word.
Let us use “Doubt” for example:
Every person has experienced doubt. Doubt in religion, doubt in science, doubt in other people, and doubt in ourselves. Some are taught that doubt is bad, it is a sin. We should never doubt our Faith. We should never doubt our country. We should never doubt our friends. We should never doubt ourselves, but do we truly understand the nature of doubt?
The word “doubt” is derived from Latin dubitare or dubius from which we get "dubious." There are two different concepts of "doubt." The definition of doubt is:
Unbelief, disbelief, rejection, denial, agnosticism, faithlessness.
a. "Cartesian doubt" begins by doubting all things, but refuses to doubt its doubts.
b. Skeptics and scoffers begin with contempt and derision to prove their preconceived
Uncertainty, lack of confidence, reservation, problematic, misgivings, skeptical, questioning,
Which of these definitions define a sin? Which of these definitions define a state of the normal human spiritual experience?
The problem is not having “Doubt.” The problem is the English language. There are different definitions and levels of doubt that we must contend with. For example, the individual who wrote me that email asked me how she could have faith when her parents contradicted their faith with their actions.
She was not doubting G-D. she was not doubting Holy Scripture. She is doubting her faith when compared to her parents actions.
When look into the various translations of the Bible, we have to understand that the complexities of the Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, and Latin texts may not be truly understood in our language.
Let us look at the Greek words that are translated as "Doubt" in English:
1. To separate, make a distinction, discriminate, to prefer.
2. To learn by discrimination, to try, decide, give judgment, decide a dispute
3. To withdraw from one, desert
4. To separate one's self in a hostile spirit, to oppose, strive with dispute, contend
5. To be at variance with one's self, hesitate, doubt
Description: Uncertainty on what to believe.
Diakrino is a superficial form of doubt that comes from uncertainty in knowing what to believe or who to trust, and often comes before someone has made a decision about what to have faith for.
Example: I tell a person with Kidney Failure that God can heal them. “No Way!” they answer. “How do you know? Are you sure?”
“Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully ( Diakrino) what is said.” 1 Cor 14:29 NIV
The emphasis was on judging the truth or falsity of the WORDS of the prophets, clergy, or laymen and exposing any lies in a prophecy or teaching. Everyone was to take note of this discerning process and the one in error was to be corrected. This process of discerning was to protect the truth from being corrupted, no matter who had brought forth the word of the moment.
Jude 1:22, James 1:6
Description: Intellectually reconsidering whether or not something one is believing for can or will occur. Skepticism.
Distazo is a form of doubt or skepticism that traces itself to a lack of commitment to the choice one has already made or knows he should make. He then reconsiders his original belief and either changes his mind and substitutes another belief, or he constantly wavers about the outcome.
Example: The person with Kidney failure whom I prayed for continues to worsen and concludes the prayer isn’t working so he distazos and decides it isn’t going to work, and he becomes skeptical. The Scriptures show this sort of doubt comes through giving up one’s conviction of faith based on what one sees or feels.
Matt 14:31, Matt 28:17
1. Lacking confidence in the performer, unfaithfulness, faithless
2. Want of faith, unbelief
3. Weakness of faith
Description: Doubting God’s willingness or ability to alter the circumstances one is in.
Apistea is a form of unbelief that often shows a lack of a confidence in God to do what He has promised to do, and its cure requires repentance rather then merely overcoming intellectual doubt.
Example: Our Kidney failure patient agrees the Bible indicates that God can heal anyone of anything, but he says: “The doctor says I only have two years! Why should I believe God will heal me at this late date?!” This is more of a conscious choice to doubt, rather than a doubt motivated by fear.
Matt 13:58, Matt 17:20, Mark 6:6, Mark 9:24, Mark 16:14, Romans 3:3, Rom. 4:20, Romans 11:2, Romans 11:23, 1Tim 1:13, Heb 3:12, Heb 3:19
1. Obstinate, rebellious, refusal to believe, apathetic.
Apeithei is the hardest form of unbelief, and refers to a person who has dug in his heels and simply refuses to believe even if he knows he is wrong--possibly to the point of actually preaching against the truth. Example: Our Kidney Failure patient agrees God can heal him and that the Bible says it’s correct to pray for healing, but he says “I don’t care whether the Bible says God will heal me or not--it’s obvious I’m going to die, so why pray for healing?!” Otherwise, apeithei can trace itself to a sincere but false belief that a person refuses to give up.
Example: our Kidney failure patient is from a conservative Christian denomination and says “I don’t care what the Epistle of James says, our church teaches that was for the days of the Apostles, and we don’t believe God heals anymore, except through medicine, so I refuse to let you pray for me to get healed!” Both show an obstinate hardness of heart that must be repented from in order to remove the barrier to faith in a matter.
Romans 11:30, Romans 11:32, Eph 2:2, Eph 5:6, Col 3:6, Heb 4:6, Heb 4:11, Heb 4:6, Heb 4:11
These are but a few words in that have been translated as Doubt, but have very different intrinsic meanings. There are also:
Aporeo "To be without a way" or "Perplexed"
Mark 6:20, John 13:22, Luke 24:4, Acts 25:20,2 Cor 4:8, Gal 4:20
Diaporeo "Asunder," "Perplexity amounting to frustration or despair"
Acts 2:12, Acts 5:24, Acts 10:17
Meterizo "To be in," or "Make to"
Mic 4:1, Ezek 10:16, Obad 1:4, Luke 12:29
Psuchen Airo "To hold in suspense," "an objective suspense due to lack of light," "Failed past expectations"
Dialogismos "Expresses reasoning or questioning hesitation,"
1 Tim 2:8, Rom 14:1
In the context of the Bible, which of these forms of doubt are sins and which are just the normal spiritual walk?
Remember, Jesus did not condemn Thomas for his "Doubt," he offered himself up as proof to him. Doubt is proof of Faith, in many cases. By questioning your own belief, you are affirming your humanity. You are affirming the foundation of your own beliefs. Most of all, doubt forces us to make sure in the accuracy of the who, what, and why of our path. When you do not doubt, you lose the ability to identify your own fallibility.
“We're not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be”~C.S. Lewis