- Hardcover: 192 pages
- Publisher: Zondervan (September 16, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0310253519
- ISBN-13: 978-0310253518
- Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.8 x 8.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 65 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #497,616 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Faith and Doubt Hardcover – September 16, 2008
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From the Back Cover
What if the most important word is the one in the middle?
We often think of doubt as the opposite of faith, but could it actually strengthen our relationship with God? According to John Ortberg, best-selling author and pastor, the very nature of faith requires the presence of uncertainty. In this refreshingly candid look at a life of faith, he traces the line between belief and unbelief: less a dividing line between hostile camps than a razor's edge that runs through every soul. His findings point us toward the relief of being totally honest. Questions can expand our understanding, uncertainty can lead to trust, and honest faith can produce outrageous hope. Written from Ortberg's own struggle with faith and doubt, this book will challenge, comfort, and inspire you with the truth that God wants all of us--including our doubts.
About the Author
John Ortberg is a pastor at Menlo Park Presbyterian Church in Menlo Park, California. He is the bestselling author of When the Game Is Over, It All Goes Back in the Box; The Life You've Always Wanted; and If You Want to Walk on Water, You've Got to Get Out of the Boat. He and his wife Nancy, have three children. SPANISH BIO: John Ortberg es el Pastor principal de la Iglesia Presbiteriana de Menlo Park, en Menlo Park, California, con dependencias en Menlo Park, Mountain View y San Mateo. Ha escrito numerosas obras que han tenido una gran aceptacion, como La fe y la duda; El ser que quiero ser; Un amor mas alla de la razon; Cuando el juego termina, todo regresa a la caja; La mision fantasma; Dios esta mas cerca de lo que crees; Todos somos normales hasta que nos conocen; La vida que siempre has querido; Si quieres caminar sobre las aguas, tienes que salir de la barca; Vivamos divinamente la vida, y el plan de estudios multimedia Old Testament Challenge (con la colaboracion de Kevin Harney). John y su esposa Nancy tienen tres hijos.
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Mr. Ortberg’s work is far more focused and clearly he is a minister with a hope to help Christians who struggle with doubt. The Book, Faith and Doubt makes it clear that if you have faith, you have doubt. He goes so far as to say you cannot have faith and certainty. Near the end of the work he talks about holding up his fist and asking people if they believe he has a twenty dollar bill in his hand. At that point the people around him have no way of being certain what is in his hand. Some of those on lookers will have faith that the minister has $20 in that fist, because he said he did and they have faith that a minister would not lie. Some around the minister might be equally sure that the minister is lying. Maybe they have known some ministers well, in their past and know not to trust them. Then the Reverend Ortberg says to those who have faith in him, “I am now going to destroy your faith in me,” and he opens his hand and shows them what the fist contains. You see, once you know something, once you have seen with your eyes, once you are absolutely certain, you no longer have any need for faith.
When it comes to the claims of the Bible, we cannot know for certain that the claims are true, just as we cannot know for certain that the claims are untrue. We can have an opinion. We can have a conviction. We can believe so strongly that it feels like a fact, but in the end, honest thinking people know that we cannot know if the those Biblical stories are true, or untrue.
Another powerful point in the book Faith and Doubt is that there is a difference in faith and faithfulness. The author gives an example of his marriage. I have been married 42 years so I could identify with this example. The author writes that on his wedding day he was 95% sure that he was marrying the right person. He was almost totally sure that he was marrying for the right reasons, marrying the right person, and that his bride was almost totally sure as she approached their wedding day. But almost sure, pretty darn sure, is not the same thing as being certain. beyond all doubt. When you consider that about half of all marriages end in divorce and most people getting married also were pretty sure they were marrying the right person, well, you get the point.
But not being absolutely, beyond all doubt, 100% certain did not prevent the couple from taking their marriage vows. They could pledge to love, honor, and care for one another in sickness and in health, for richer and poorer, and they could promise to forsake all others without being 100% sure they were perfect for one another?
They could make promises to love one another forever, even when they were not 100% sure, because they were making a personal commitment to be faithful to one another.
Being faithful to your spouse does not require you to be sure, it only requires you to intend to be faithful. Intention fills the gap between being pretty sure and being unsure. In a similar way, when we recite the Nicene Creed and we say that we believe in Christ who “came down from heaven,” or if we say we “believe in the resurrection of the body” when we actually have some doubts about that stuff, well, we can still say we believe it, if we are willing to fill in the space between pretty sure, and unsure with our faithful commitment to Christ.
The author points out that not being absolutely certain, is not the same thing as having no reasons to believe. Like getting married, our faith in the truth of some part of the Biblical story might be 95% sure with just a few elements of doubt. If you are honest you will have to admit that there are things that are unknowable on this side of death’s door. After we pass through death’s door, if there is an afterlife, we may know that for sure, but we will have no way to communicate that certain knowledge to those still living. If there is nothing on the other side of death’s door, the atheists will be right, but they will never know for certain that they are right, because they will be nothing but broken meat computers.
One rule of thumb that the author shared needs to be shared again, and as often as possible: When something is UNKNOWABLE, then it is pointless to argue about it. If there is a question that cannot be answered on this side of death’s door, then what we should do is not decided. Don’t decided that God exists and all the promises of the Bible are true, and don’t decided that God does not exist, and that all the promises of the Bible are untrue. Instead, choose to do what you can to enhance this life. Nurture relationships. Advocate for love. Move forward with both the faith and the doubts you carry inside of yourself.
The author points out that when faith also contains doubt that those doubts motivate the doubter to keep looking for answers. Doubts keep us from the hubris of certainty. We won’t presume to do God’s work for God, we won’t judge, we won’t cut heads off those who believe God hates, we won’t shun those who think differently from us, we will allow God to be God, and we will be more willing to be disciples of Christ doing what Jesus did, loving others.
I am sure I have not done this book justice. The author is a better writer than I am and he presents his views far better than I can, but I just want you to consider reading this book. If you want to be a atheist then this is not the book for you. If you happen to be a human, struggling with a desire for faith but having honest doubts and misgivings, then this well might be a perfect book for you to read.
By saying, "I hope so", Billy Graham was not doubting his faith! He was merely hoping that to God he would be considered a good and faithful servant...not that he hoped there was a God. I took away one star for this author's misleading statement. I'll be back to finish this review when I finish the book.
Finding John, for me, was like finding a great mystery writer. I am not always able to determine how the puzzle will be solved until the end. But the gems of wisdom, the humor and the personal anecdotes keep me spellbound until the last page.
In this book he describes degrees of doubt, both the helpful and the destructive kind. He talks about faith and how it always applies only to the unseen.
I guess the most telling thing for me is that after 60 years someone has helped me realize that my doubts are not a condemnation to hell, but a starting point to find my faith.