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Doubting: Growing Through the Uncertainties of Faith Paperback – January 5, 2007

4.5 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Western culture is going through an anti-Christian phase, writes McGrath, an Oxford theologian and president of the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics. Doubt, he says, is currently fashionable, hence the continuing need for books of Christian apologetics, which explain and defend the faith. Doubt is normal, according to McGrath, its presence simply an indication that a person's faith needs to grow. In concise, readable and encouraging language, he examines various kinds of doubt (of God, Jesus, the Gospel and ourselves) and offers orthodox theological and biblical teachings as antidotes. Emphasis on feelings and experience in matters religious are fine for new converts, but in Oxfordian fashion, McGrath recommends academic study of the Gospels and Christian faith as well as engaging in traditional devotional practices and spending time with mature Christians as tools for growth in understanding and faithfulness. The book covers well-trod ground, adding little new content, but the language and examples are contemporary and engaging. Some confusion about the audience arises when McGrath alternates between speaking directly to college-age students, the book's primary audience, and providing instructions to counselors, clergy and friends who are caring for doubters. (Jan.)
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Review

"In this short book, McGrath's pastoral concern for those struggling with doubt is apparent. His words provide encouragement and hope to continue to pursue faith in God in the midst of doubt." (Glenn R. Kreider, Bibliotheca Sacra, October-December 2008)

"Many Christians experience doubt of their faith in the first years after accepting Christ. This book is for them." (ECIBA.org, February 13, 2008)

"It's a rare thing to find a theologian altogether thorough, brief, and satisfying. Irish author, theologian, and former atheist Alister McGrath offers a manageable first-read on addressing a new believer's doubts." (Modern Reformation, July/August 2007)

"McGrath deals intelligently and methodically with the stigmatized subject of doubt, clearly separating it from disbelief." (Church Libraries, Summer 2007)

"How do we contend with opposing worldviews? How do we deal with uncertainty about such fundamental things as God, Jesus Christ and the Bible? How do we deal with doubt about ourselves? All of these and other questions we struggle with on a daily basis are covered in eleven helpful chapters." (Jim Miller Review, August 13, 2007)

"McGrath writes in a conversational manner which makes this book accessible to a wide variety of readers. . . . [A]nyone with questions about the veracity of Christianity should benefit from reading this book." (Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith, September 2007)

"McGrath has a knack for giving us a good bird's eye view of broad ideas. For those of us who have lots of questions about God's perplexing interaction with humanity as well as those of us who are just plain skeptics. Doubting invites us to look deeper and to grow 'through the uncertainties of faith.'" (Relevant, November 2007)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 156 pages
  • Publisher: InterVarsity Press (January 5, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0830833528
  • ISBN-13: 978-0830833528
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #671,189 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By rodboomboom HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on March 1, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A McGrath fan, this is yet another of his fine works. This one is not of the scholarly, academic genre, but rather a more practical, down to earth, layperson oriented effort.

And a fine one at that it is, focusing in on the important area of doubt. He begins by showing great empathy for it, showing that it is normal for not only the infant Christian, but equally so for the mature believer as well. The difference between the two is how different each copes with doubt. Herein lies the usefulness of this book.

The mature learn to cope with doubt by immersion in their faith practice, not falling away from it, which will and does only serve to sever the nourishment lines and cause the faith seed to expire. He provides workable, usable, doable suggestions for such immersion, e.g. daily Scriputre reading, pastoral counseling, journaling, etc. His analogies are excellent, e.g. the water spider's survival in hostile environment and the way it survives. (you'll have to read this to find out the wonderful parallels)

Add another excellent resource to your suggested reading here: Nancy Pearcey's "Total Truth". Apologetics is useful area to aid not only the individual's doubt, but also allow then to aid others.

Recommended for doubters and those that assist doubters.
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I highly recommend this book. The author used to teach at Oxford and fascilitated a number of small-groups for students. He writes off of his experience in what Christians doubt the most. He says it is aimed toward those who are new to the faith or College aged, but it seemed just as applicable to any age.

The author begins by noting we Christians wrongly deny our doubts (but all of us have them!) and hide them out of guilt and shame(instead of dealing with them).

One of the reasons we doubt come from what the author calls "growing pains." So instead of seeing them as bad, we should see them as opportunities to grow. For instance, when people first come to Jesus it is often because he offers them something they need (i.e. forgiveness or a relationship with God). So we enter the relationship and push the doubts aside. But later on they pop up again.

This is perfectly normal and we usually enter into other relationships without all of our questions answered. But for any relationship to grow we must dig deeper or it will die. So when old doubts pop up again or someone questions our faith it is time for us to dig deeper and learn the answers we need for ourselves or for others (i.e. Bible Study, Theology, Apologetics).

Another reason for doubt comes from an unrealistic expectation. We expect to know everything before we commit to something. But this is an unattainable goal since we are finite and can never know all there is to know. We see through a glass dimly as the Apostle Paul stated. In reality, we are required to commit faith everyday in everything we do because of this same issue.

Sometimes we doubt because we judge what is right by how we feel or our own experience at the moment.
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I thought this book was unique in it's kind. It was well written (stucturally) and was written unlike his other books. His approach in this book was written easily to understand and follow. It was refreshing because it was honest, and not so dogmatic as others pushing their beliefs often are. I highly recremend this book.
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I really enjoy McGrath's work as a theologian and this book didn't disappointed me in any respect. It is written in an everyday language, it's easy to understand and it's appealing enough to make you keep reading. Although it's written in a simple way it's not simplistic--it doesn't lack anything in substance and McGrath has many nuggets of wisdom in this broad topic that often don't come up in conversation when evangelicals talk about doubt in general. I wish, however, that he would've spent more time unpacking how the Bible understands the concept of doubt as sinful in some contexts (like in the instances in which Jesus rebukes his disciples for their lack of faith) and as the result of frailty in others (like when John the Baptist was in prison and doubted Jesus was the Messiah).

McGrath has a lot of good things to say, but the book was simply not designed to be exhaustive. Once again, however, what he has to say might not be extensive but it has a lot of weight, besides the fact that the book presents insights that are not commonly brought up when evangelicals discuss this issue (e.g., the fact that doubt is present in every worldview, what doubt is and what is not, how we can be conditioned by our backgrounds to be prone to experience certain doubts, etc).

That said, I think any Christian can benefit from this fine work. For the seasoned Christian it can help to refine our ideas about this issue and for the doubting or new Christian it can help them to put their doubts into perspective and serve as a trampoline for other materials that may compliment this one very well. I would like to suggest William Lane Craig's book, On Guard which is also readable enough for the average layman but even more meaty than this one. It would compliment very well this one, especially with McGrath's chapters on doubts about Jesus and God. It will provide good grounds to believe in Jesus's resurrection and God's existence, thus reducing one's own doubts.
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