By Dr. Rob Helton
A friend of mine once said, Rob, I can’t recite the Apostle’s Creed because I can’t honestly say that I believe it.
That piqued my curiosity, so I said, Tell me more.
Well, he said, I want to be able to recite all the statements in the creed with integrity. I’m really drawn to the Christian faith. I think the teachings of Christ are beautiful. I’m captivated by the possibility that Jesus actually is the Son of God. But I have doubts…really big ones!
Perhaps you can relate to my friend, or you have a friend that can relate to my friend. You, and/or your friend, have doubts…really big ones!
Here’s what I said to my doubtful friend. I hope it helps you…and/or your friend.
I don’t think we are required to believe without doubts. Doubts are a natural part of belief. Jesus once asked a man if he believed, to which the man replied, I believe, help my unbelief!
So, when we confess our faith, we always confess more than we understand, and sometimes we confess more than we believe, at least in that moment. Belief and unbelief sometimes co-exist.
Let me say it this way. A confession of faith is not a confession of certainty. Let me say it another way. If I don’t have any doubts, then I really don’t need faith. As the writer of the book of Hebrews said, “Faith is the substance of what we hope for, the evidence of what we can’t see. (Hebrews 11:1) If we could already see it, we wouldn’t need faith.
In 1961, John F. Kennedy made a “confession of faith.” It went something like this. I believe that we can put a man on the moon within a decade. Do you think that JFK may have had doubts about that confession?
Here’s the point I’m trying to make. It is not wrong to confess our faith even when we have doubts. Some people thought JFK was naïve at best, and possibly crazy. Some who hear Christians recite the Apostles Creed think the same thing. And some Christians may feel crazy while they’re reciting the confession. Still, we confess our faith, sometimes fraught with doubts…until, like everybody glued to their T. V’s on July 20th 1969, our faith is transformed into sight.