Written by Heather Mitton 

A few months ago, I sat across from a girl, new to our gathering, who was shaking her head about Christians who couldn’t just “take things as they were presented.” 

As the coffee cups emptied, our rowdy group of committed but cheeky Jesus-followers tossed around ideas we’d been wrestling with, and began our regular practice of exploring each other’s difficult questions. 

When we started on what was meant by the authority of Scripture I saw a familiar look in her eyes. 


For her, questioning faith or expressing doubt was at best impolite and at worst a sin. 

I felt for her.  

I used to have a nice, tidy Jesus shelf in my brain where I stuck ideas that made me skeptical.  

At the time, I thought I was being faithful by systematically eliminating any trace of doubt or misgiving. But the truth was, no matter how far back I wedged them, those thoughts were still there.  

If you talk to young adults who have left their faith behind, many will comment that things weren’t quite adding up for them. And because sharing skepticism is not always encouraged (think: “trust and obey, for there’s no other way”) they packed up their doubts and moved on. 

I hate hearing that.  

Because the fantastic thing about God is that He knows everything you’re thinking. Which means that when Pastor So-and-So’s sermon, or that Facebook article everyone is sharing, makes your eyebrows shoot up… that’s no secret to God.  

If you’re telling me that nothing about this complex, mysterious, counter-intuitive faith has ever bothered you, I’m going to suggest (so very gently) that you need to ask more questions. 

In fact, I am going to make a bet (and I’m pretty sure we’re not allowed to do that) that if you commit to the process of lifelong faith, you are going to bump up against theological ideas that make you uncomfortable.  

So here is the profound truth I realized, after feeling shame about my own doubt: 

Either you believe in something… or you don’t. 

Let me say it another way:  

Either you believe in something… or you don’t.  

Sorry, that was the same way.  

Because it really can’t get much more straightforward than that.   

Our faith is not our denomination, our book choices, or our Bible study track record — those things are external. 

But if we believe, as I think we do, that our faith is fundamentally, inextricably, rooted in Jesus alone, then our faith doesn’t depend on getting everything exactly right in our hearts and minds about our beliefs… God knows it all, and our doubts and uncertainties don’t threaten Him. 

That realization was freeing. 

It gave me permission to ask the hard questions and put things to the test, because I knew it was safe to do so.  

It seems to me that God was compassionate in Scripture toward the people doing some heavy-duty wrestling; but He sure wasn’t a fan of apathy.  

Our students need to hear this: 

Doubt is not a betrayal, but an intentional act of courage.  

To explore our skepticism is to say to God “I value this relationship so much that I am not content to let hidden parts of myself keep us from knowing each other fully.”  

Asking hard questions won’t keep us from God… but hiding them just might. 

If God wanted hands-folded, no-questions-asked followers He could have made us that way. But He didn’t.  

Besides, what we think is rebelliousness may very well be the Holy Spirit moving around. Throughout history there have been countless ideas pitched to us as God’s plan that we now know were certainly not (indulgences, anyone?). In fact, some of our most revolutionary thinkers were people who heard what everyone else was saying on behalf of God and thought, “I don’t buy that”. 

How do you relate to skepticism and doubt?  

How do your students hear you talk about it?  

Some questions to work through together: 

1) What nagging questions have I shelved in the name of honouring God?
2) What image do I have of God that makes me think my doubts are not welcome? 
3) Do I see doubt as a betrayal or a desire to work at a more authentic relationship with Christ? 
4) What do my students hear me saying (directly or indirectly) about their doubt?
5) Do I have trusted people who can take my questions seriously and help me navigate closer to Christ?