Mike Licona’s Struggle with His Faith

I really like Mike Licona. Although there are a lot of reasons to appreciate him, I think his openness to discuss the struggle he has been through is what I appreciate most. Here is a video where he expresses his journey with great transparency.

Question Everything from Recycle Your Faith on Vimeo.

See Mike’s website: http://www.risenJesus.com


Disobedience and Doubt: Is There a Connection?

I have written extensively on this blog on the issue of Christian doubt. I have avoided talking about it’s connection to personal sin in our lives not because I don’t believe that the root of doubt can be sometimes traced there, but because, in the minds of some, personal sin is the only reason for doubt. I have argued against this. However, I do think it is important for us to realize that doubt is very often rooted in our sinful choices. In fact, crossing the line of disobedience consistently will tear apart every aspect of our faith.

Let’s start at the beginning: Disobedience is a choice. Faith is not. Well . . . what I mean is that I cannot just decide to believe like flipping on and off a switch in my head. It is more complex. However, disobedience, from a biblical standpoint, can and does rob us of faith that we have. Habits in our lives form faith connections. Once that line is disobedience crossed, it gets easier and easier to cross it again. We have all been there. What we have to understand is that when God says to do something and we decide not to, it eventually becomes habit. These habits necessarily create connections of unbelief. And like with any habit, tt gets easier and easier to disobey. Once it is a habit, we begin to find excuses for our waywardness. We become very good at finding ways to justify our disobedience. How do I know? Because I am an expert. Don’t get smug; you are too.

“My anger outbursts may be bad, but at least they are not as bad as his.”

“I am entitled to spend all this money on myself. After all, look how hard I worked.”

“I made all the right decisions. I deserve to think more highly of myself than I do of that person, who can’t get it right.”

“Why should I share? This is a tough world. Either eat or get eaten.”

“You don’t buy a car before you test drive it. Why shouldn’t I live with my girlfriend before marrying her?”

“After all I have been through, I deserve to get drunk.”

“So many bad things have happened to me, I have the right to worry.”

These types of justifications for our sin are a reflection of our humanity. They are emblematic of the flesh. We will hear this type of rationale (from the devil on our shoulders) until the day we die. But knowing what is right and not doing it is destructive to every aspect of who we are. Justifying our sin leads to further disobedience and, ultimately, to a loss of faith. Some of you reading this are suffering significant doubt because you are disobeying regularly and justifying your disobedience in one way or another. It has become a habit. Continue reading


Embrasing Doubt

Oxymoron means “sharp dullness”. It describes a figure of speech when two words are put together which are self-contradictory. For example, “accurate rumors” is an oxymoron. Why? Because by definition, a rumor is not yet deemed to be accurate. Other examples could include: “insane logic”, “public secret”, “instant classic”, or my favorite, “government intelligence”. However, over the years I have come to believe that “Roman Catholic Scholarship” is an oxymoron. I don’t believe that one can be a Roman Catholic and be a scholar at the same time. Well, let me put it another way: I don’t believe that one can be a true Roman Catholic and be a scholar at the same time. Why, because being a Roman Catholic militates against what makes someone a scholar in my opinion.

I know, I know . . . I don’t ever write this this. Well, this polemical. It seems as if I am discrediting Roman Catholic scholarship with a heavy hand by an ad hom fiat. Please know that this is not what I mean to do. There are going to be plenty of people thrown under the bus with this one. In fact, let me start by saying this: there are many Roman Catholics I deeply respect. I am not anti-Catholic. As well, there are many Roman Catholic’s who I believe qualify as scholars. However, once they become a scholar (and I am talking about theology here), as I will explain, they have to depart to some degree from Rome. I am not saying that they actually depart from their core Catholic beliefs. I am simply saying that they must suspend their commitment to Rome in order to meet what I believe to be an essential characteristic of scholarship.

Most of you would not think of yourself as scholars. I understand that. I don’t think of myself as such either. However, I would assume that you attempt to be good students. Namely, you attempt to be students of truth.

Let me back up a bit.

Rene Descartes and Doubt

Rene Descartes is often thought of as the father of modernity. He gets a bad wrap these days, especially by our postmodern and emerging friends. I think some of the bad wrap is justified. Particularly his quest for indubitably. How is that for a word? Don’t try to say it out loud at home. Indubitably is the quest for absolute and perfect certainty. Rene Descartes (and many of his modernistic buddies) wanted their beliefs to be beyond the ability to be wrong. Like 1 plus 1 equals 2, Descartes wanted all matters of faith to share such comforting certainty (indubitably). I can’t get into all the fallacies here, but let’s just say that this quest was not only impossible, but unnecessary. Our beliefs do not have to be infallible before we are justified in possessing them. However, Descartes methodology had many redeeming elements that provide benchmarks of inquiry, learning, and knowledge. The first and most important thing that Descartes taught was that we are to doubt. Doubt everything!

Doubt gets a hard wrap in religious circles. In fact, we are often told that the opposite of faith is doubt. For many, doubt is only what unbelievers do. It is true that doubt can be a bad thing, but it largely depends on the context and how you understand it. Doubt can be, and very ofter is, healthy. In fact, I argue that doubt is a necessary first step to true conviction, understanding, and real faith. Let me explain. Continue reading


Doubting my Salvation but I will NOT Give Up!

Submitted by anon posted by C Michael Patton. Thanks for your honesty.

This blog couldn’t have come at a better time for me. I have been dealing with doubt over my salvation for the past two years.

I grew up in a Christian home and went to church and a christian school. I accepted christ at a very young age, but reaccepted him at the age of 12. This was around a time that I first started to experience depression. I firmly had faith that God had plans for me and loved me. I made it through those years with the hope he gave me.

In my late teens (I am now 26) I went through a period were I chose sin over God. Since that time I had a miscarriage, when I got pregnant the second time I started experiencing weird physical problems. During these trying times I had no where to turn, but I didn’t feel as if I could talk to God since I had knowingly sinned against him. I begged him for forgiveness but still didn’t feel comfortable talking to him. After giving birth to my son I developed autoimmune arthritis. This time I needed him more than ever, but there has been no reassurance of his love for me.

I still have problems talking to God. I love Jesus, I love that he endured the cross for our salvation, I know we are only saved by his grace and not by anything we can possibly do. I know a lot of things with my head but I still can’t seem to get past this struggle of feeling like I am not saved. I have prayed many times that he would help me in this area. I have prayed that he would show me his love. I have to come to an understanding with myself that I will NOT give up. I will not turn away from the one true God no matter how frustrated or confused I am. I have hope that someday he will bring me peace in this area.
I suppose I may be struggling because of my past sins and don’t feel worthy even though I know no one is technically worthy. Yet I still struggle. I struggle daily with my sinful thoughts and my problems, and than think “how can I be saved when I am still struggling. Aren’t you supposed to change for the better once saved?”

I try reading the Bible only to feel worse afterwards. Instead of finding hope I find fear. I fear that I am a Judas or a King Saul. Those who knew God but obviously weren’t saved. They had the head knowledge.
I have questions that make me upset. If faith is a gift from God given by his mercy than does that mean that God is keeping unbelievers from becoming believers. Why show mercy to some by giving them faith and not others? Does that mean people don’t really have a choice?

Also why would God give someone faith and than take it away (as in someone who walks away from the faith and never returns) Does this mean they have lost their salvation or were never saved to begin with?
It is hard to feel love, peace, and hope when you aren’t even certain that you are saved. It is hard to love him in return when you feel afraid of Him.

Thank you for starting this post. It is comforting to know I am not the only one with these problems.
As I read in a previous blog, sometimes I fear I am going insane, as if I don’t have control over my emotions or fears.


When God Goes Dark in Your Life

I am somewhat envious of people who experience God differently than I do. I hear about all kinds of experiences that are once or twice removed from me and say a silent prayer in the back of my head, “Why not me Lord?” Whether it be through worship, through quiet fellowship filled with God’s felt presence, or the dramatic conversion experiences, I don’t know what they are like except through the testimony of others.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not complaining. I am not even expressing a spiritual vitamin shortage. At least I don’t think I am. But the fact is that I have been a Christian all my life and when people tell me the dramatic stories of their subjective encounters with God, I don’t know how to relate. I just have not had them. I have never heard God’s voice, never had a dramatic life changing dream, never “felt” the presence of God in my room (even during prayer), never spoken in tongues, never gotten a “word from the Lord” (not even for this blog), and never had a sin dramatically taken from me. In fact, most of my spiritual life does not come easy. It involves wrestling with the Lord through prayer. I find it very difficult to stop sin, change bad attitudes, keep from forming bad habits, and to stop from hiding from obligations. In fact (though this may come across as blasphemous to some), the “peace that passes understanding” is something that is more often than not quit far from me. Sure, I do have peace in the ultimate things. Salvation, truth, the Lord’s love, and the truths of Scripture bring me “meta peace.” But as far as the day-to-day battle, the peace that I experience is very understandable, being absent most of the time. Continue reading


Tire Kicker Christianity

“Someday, maybe.” That was the perpetual attitude of a doctor that I was doing my best to win to Christ. I was a young enthusiastic Christian who thought he had all the answers. He was a seeker seeking answers. What a great combo when we were introduced. Our first evening together was spent discussing many questions about the reliability of the Bible. By the time our conversation was complete, I thought that I might have him. But he wanted to “think it over”. The next time we met he had questions about the problem of evil. After giving it my all, I thought we had for sure turned a corner. However, over the next year, the questions, issues, and objections found no end. We talked about the existence of God, the resurrection of Christ, Jonah and the whale and everything else you could think of. Every time I pleaded with him to believe, he just came at me with more questions. Once we went full-circle back to the questions we began with I realized that I had done all I could. His questions had been sufficiently answered. Yes, he could continue with the “What about this…” or “What about that…” possibilities, but none of them were probabilities. It was time for him to make a decision and he was not going to. His faith in Christ was always just one answered question away.

For some of us, that is where we are at. “Maybe someday” is the response. We are always one question away from making the decision to trust him. This is a kind of tire-kicker Christianity. We are always examining, but never buying. You need to examine if this is where you are at. Apologetics (defending the faith) can only go so far. I am not saying that there are not legitimate questions that we need answered. What I am saying is that at some point our indecisiveness becomes a definite decision. Our lack of faith in Christ becomes our new blind faith.

Here is the key: our conviction does not need to be perfect before we rest in Christ. It just needs to be true and sufficient.


Doubting as a Pastor (by Pastor Anon)

Raised in a “Christian” home, I thought Christian belief was simple and straightforward. I then went to a conservative, dare I say “fundamentalist” Bible College and learned differently. Sometime in between my junior and senior year I was very tempted to throw my Bible away and walk away, mainly for academic reasons.

I pursued answers to the questions, and this search awakened in me a passion for apologetics. I went on to seminary to study apologetics, and it was there in seminary, Jan. 2004, for an entire month I’d lie awake in bed asking myself how people would respond if I announced tomorrow that I no longer believed. I don’t know how I made it through that time except to say my wife and I found a warm church family. Now several years later I find myself in pastoral ministry plagued unrelentingly by a consistent feeling that the “Christian” expression I have been taught is not correct. I tell people at this point that I only believe 3 things (God’s existence, Jesus is His Son, who came back to life).

So for me the doubts now circle around other issues. This is extremely difficult, especially for a guy in pastoral ministry because I am not sure what I think of the Bible. And because I am expected as a pastor to have the answers I never feel like I have the space to work through my own struggles. It is fearful and paralyzing to stand before people who expect you to declare what God says and not be sure. The doubts are no longer academic…they are hard to categorize.


Don’t Feel the Presence of the Holy Spirit Anymore (by Anon)

I was a believer as a young child. At age 12 I almost died, didn’t phase me a bit because I trusted Jesus as my Savior.

At age 21 I doubted my salvation because of my lifesyle. There was a voice inside of me asking me to consider the “last day” a year earlier. Convinced I needed to be born again I became desperate and started seeking the LORD JESUS (Who is the LORD by the way) and was scared of going to hell. I knew the Gospel and believed it. At a Church service I gazed upon the cross and it became so personal. Months later I knew I needed to hear from God. Starting to explain my situation at a Bible Study the men got up and started to pray for me. I began trembling and started to feel a presence I’ve never felt. A woman began to explain that the Holy Spirit entered the room and she almost cried with me! On the way home I felt the peace beyond all understanding. The next few weeks, the Joy of the LORD.

Several compromises later I’m terrified that somehow I don’t have the Spirit. I’m not as close as I was. HE is the desire of my heart still and I want to live my life in a way that keeps me in fellowship with HIM. I hope I’m not a Judas or a castaway. Many different doctrines on this. Please, HELP!!!


Easier to Believe at Night (by anon)

I accepted the Lord at12. I was brought up in the Christian faith from birth but did not ask Jesus to be Lord until I was 12/13. I love the Lord and felt His presence in my life.

After the birth of my second child was the first time I experienced doubt. Probably brought on by post partum. I thought I was dying and prayed for healing. I did not see the changes I prayed for. The scriptures say “If you believe…”, and when I didn’t see the changes, I started questioning what “I believed”. It must be something with what I believed since I did not see the results I expected from my prayers, it must be my belief system. Through a word from God delivered to me through a trusted evangelist and lots of prayer, I got through it gradually about a year and a half to two years. I grew spiritual after that.

The second time I went through it was right before 9/11. I am not sure what brought it about. I know I was in the middle of depression again. I am not sure if it starts with the physical depression first that brings about the spiritual or the spiritual that brings on the physical depression. I learned a lot about physical depression during this time. This time lasted, I would guess, 1 year.

One day I decided I would choose to believe and that I needed to get busy doing what I knew needed to do, where God had me at that time in my life, to be a good wife and a mother. I grew spiritually more than ever. I love, loved, loved the word of God. God was very real in my life. I heard His voice and felt His presence and even began teaching the Word of God and on depression. I was asked to be the director of our Women’s ministry January 2010. I prayed about it and accepted and took the position in August.

Shortly after my first meeting as director, I remember very clearly, as you said you did, the first moment/thought of doubt this 3rd time I had. I was reading in Mathew of when they wanted to set guards in front of Jesus tomb so that His disciples would not come a steal his body, my immediate thought was, “Yes, what if they really stole His body?”. Shocked at where that thought could have come from, I shut my bible and put it out of my head and went on with my day. A couple of days later, I was in prayer for my teenage daughters attitude and remember asking God why He wasn’t answering my prayers. What was wrong with my heart that was hindering my prayers. God has always been so favorable to me. The next day I started crying over my daughters attitude. When I found it hard to stop crying, the questions of doubt/unbelief started coming back. I think of the scripture that says in the end, all that can be shaken, will be shaken. I felt like I was going through this shaking. Also it is as though the gospel didn’t make since to me anymore. The bible says the spirit testifies to our spirit of Him, I have felt the lose of that. Where I had great confidence now was replaced with fear. As if I know there is a God but didn’t believe Him.

I have felt as though I have grieved the Spirit with my thoughts of doubt/unbelief and God has removed His Spirit from me, I am spiritually dead. I went through many physical problems in the beginning, lack of sleep, loss of appetite, crying, feeling insane. It is the absence of peace, joy, hope, love, and confidence that has kept me where I am. Also, I do not notice the voice of God in my life anymore. It is difficult for me to read the Word (I still do read now and then though) it’s hard to listen to Christian music (I still do listen though). I see no favor in my life anymore. Like the man you mentioned during the meeting, I sometimes feel like I miss Jesus. I have not discussed all of this openly with more than 2 or 3 trusted friends.

Things are better for me physically now. It is easier for me to believe at night, for some reason, odd I know. I feel like I am always searching, always battling with myself – double minded. I feel quite hopeless at times. I quote scripture aloud. Talk to God constantly and feel I am waiting for a response.


Doubting as a Pastor (by Anon)

Raised in a “Christian” home, I thought Christian belief was simple and straightforward. I then went to a conservative, dare I say “fundamentalist,” Bible College and learned differently. Sometime in between my junior and senior year I was very tempted to throw my Bible away and walk away, mainly for academic reasons. I pursued answers to the questions, and this search awakened in me a passion for apologetics. I went on to seminary to study apologetics, and it was there in seminary, Jan. 2004, for an entire month I’d lie awake in bed asking myself how people would respond if I announced tomorrow that I no longer believed.

I don’t know how I made it through that time except to say my wife and I found a warm church family. Now several years later I find myself in pastoral ministry plagued unrelentingly by a consistent feeling that the “Christian” expression I have been taught is not correct. I tell people at this point that I only believe 3 things (God’s existence, Jesus is His Son, who came back to life).

So for me the doubts now circle around other issues. This is extremely difficult, especially for a guy in pastoral ministry because I am not sure what I think of the Bible. And because I am expected as a pastor to have the answers I never feel like I have the space to work through my own struggles. It is fearful and paralyzing to stand before people who expect you to declare what God says and not be sure. The doubts are no longer academic…they are hard to categorize.