Doubt is Not The Enemy of Faith

Barnabas Piper | January 20th 2020

“I was born into a Christian home and accepted Jesus at a young age.” You’ve heard this line or something resembling it a thousand times. If you, like me, grew up in a churchgoing family, this was the opening chord to so many testimonies you heard at Sunday school or youth camp or wherever. It was the opening to mine.

I spent my first thirty years as a pastor’s kid, marked by consistent and rigorous scriptural teaching. I knew my Bible inside and out. I was the Sunday school answer man, helped lead youth group worship, and generally looked the part of a good Christian boy. In my book The Pastor’s Kid I describe in detail how all this “good Christian” stuff was hollow, though. It wasn’t outright hypocrisy or overt rebellion (most of the time). The hollowness came from my lack of belief and inability to even explain what that meant. I thought I believed, but I didn’t even know what belief was.

Help My Unbelief

Help My Unbelief

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How doubt can lead to greater faith.

When I was seven years old, I walked into my dad’s study at home one day and told him I wanted to follow Jesus. I don’t remember why. It might have been fear of hell, it might have been a desire to spend eternity with my family, or it might have been guilt. I sat on his knee and had a conversation also now long forgotten. Then we pulled out my illustrated NIV children’s Bible, opened up to a blank page at the beginning, and wrote a profession of faith. My childish hand wrote about my need for a savior and how I believed Jesus was my only hope and now my life would be his forever.

From that day forward I have considered myself a Christian. I know I am a sinner. That much is obvious to anyone who knows me. I believe God is holy, so much so that he cannot abide sin in his presence. I believe I cannot do a single thing to purify myself enough to gain access to God. I believe that “God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) And I believe in the perfect Son, Jesus, the only man who ever lived a life of perfection and thus was able to be the flawless sacrifice and bear God’s punishment for my sin and those of everyone else who believes. I believe Jesus rose from the dead and thus has shown himself to be the conquering King who will one day return to “wipe away every tear” and reside in a newly created earth where “neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore.” (Revelation 21:4)

I have believed these truths almost all my life. And yet…

And yet I have committed sins that have deeply wounded others and nearly destroyed my relationship with Jesus.

And yet I have looked Scripture full in the face and decided my way is better than God’s; I would rather be my own god.

And yet I doubt the promises God gave even though he provided the surety: his beloved Son’s very life. My troubles are bigger than God’s love no matter what he says.

And yet I am skeptical. I know what Scripture says and I know the arguments, but the questions stack up. Some people think, God says it, I believe it, that settles it. But it doesn’t settle it. Did God really say it? I don’t really believe it. Nothing is settled.

And yet my belief is weak. Or maybe it’s not there. Or maybe I don’t really know what belief means. And that’s what this book is about—not each and every question and doubt you have, but a look at the more fundamental question. What is belief?

You have your own “and yet.” Maybe yours inserted itself before you even professed belief; all the claims of the Bible and this man, Jesus, are just too much to assent to. You struggle with questions of evil and pain and the existence of God. You are a skeptic, either willfully or because you just can’t help it. I cannot answer all your questions. I don’t think anyone on earth can. But answers exist. They are found in belief, with or without empirical evidence to back them up. I hope to show you that it’s worth it to risk believing.

Or maybe your “and yet” is on the other end of the spectrum; you have so willingly followed Jesus that you have never raised a question about life’s hardships or God’s promises. You follow blindly but faithfully. But is this because you truly believe without doubt or because you fear where questions might take you? Are you afraid that questioning or even, gulp, doubting might open a Pandora’s box of sin and judgment? My goal in Help My Unbelief is to help you see that belief isn’t blind faith and that questions, if asked well, are building blocks for stronger faith rather than stepping-stones away from it.

In Help My Unbelief, Barnabas Piper unpacks what faith really means. He shows how embracing doubts and questions can help us to get to know God better, and he encourages us to trust God in our everyday lives, even when we don't understand everything about him.

Barnabas Piper

Barnabas Piper is Director for Community at Immanuel Nashville. He is also an author and speaker and the father of two daughters. He cohosts the Happy Rant podcast and blogs at

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