It's OK to doubt the Bible on your journey to Jesus Christ
Doubts are interesting things. The dictionary defines doubt as fear or suspicion. We're not sure we can really trust something or we consider something as unlikely; we are uncertain about something.
Can a person doubt parts of the Bible such as the story of Creation or the Flood or the reports of miracles in the Bible and still be a Christ follower? Brace yourself; my answer will surprise you and most likely garner the wrath of others. But, yes.
As a matter of fact, I am of the opinion that the church should be a safe haven for doubters. Sadly however, nine-point-nine times out of 10 it is not. So, let's talk about this important issue.
Can a person come to Christ and still have doubts? Absolutely. Do you recall the account of the man who came to Jesus with a request? Well, that's not a fair question, because most of the people who came to Jesus came with a request.
The particular guy I have in mind, however, was the father of a boy who was prone to seizures. The account is found in Mark 9:14-29. As Jesus converses with this desperate father, He (Jesus) says, "Everything is possible for him who believes." To which the father replies, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!" (Mark 9:24, NIV84).
Or as one translation puts it, "I do believe, help me with my doubts!"
This guy didn't have all the answers. In fact, as you read the account in Mark 9, he wasn't even sure Jesus would be able to help him, but still he came, doubts and all. So yes, you can come to Jesus and still have doubts.
Do you have to believe in a literal interpretation of Genesis 1-3 to come to Jesus? No. We in the church need to be careful that we make certain Old Testament References a litmus test to screen who can and can't come to Jesus.
In Acts 15, a problem arises in the first church: Gentiles who don't know the first thing about the Old Testament Laws, who don't know the Jewish regulations regarding worship, start coming to Jesus.
Hearing arguments from both sides -- those who hold that there has to be certain standards set and kept if the church is to remain pure, and those who claim that it's up to God to keep the church pure, not their own rules and regulations -- the counsel in Jerusalem reaches a decision.
The leader of the early church, James, the brother of Jesus, renders the verdict, "So here is my decision: We're not going to unnecessarily burden non-Jewish people who turn to the Master. We'll write them a letter and tell them, 'Be careful to not get involved in activities connected with idols, to guard the morality of sex and marriage, to not serve food offensive to Jewish Christians--blood, for instance'" (Acts 15:19 20, The Message).
The early church boils the entire Old Testament down to three things: don't get involved with false worship, don't sin sexually, and don't try to purposefully offend people by forcing your beliefs on them. That's it.
It doesn't say, "You have to believe in Creation, the flood, Abraham and Moses." Most of those coming to this new faith would have been unfamiliar with those things anyhow.
They don't even say, "You have to believe the Bible," because, face it, for the first 200 years or so, the Bible didn't even exist. The sacred writings existed, but the book we refer to as the Bible did not come into existence until after the great Councils that examined a whole lot of literature and, following rigid tests, finally settled on a "Canon" which means simply, a rule or standard.
That canon of ancient writings is what we call our Bible today.
So no, you don't even have to believe everything in the Bible before you can come to Christ, and it is high time we in the church stopped making artificial demands that drive people from Christ instead of drawing them to Christ.
Like the man in Mark 9, let's get them to the central issue, let's get them to Christ, and then, He and we can help them grow stronger in faith and resolve some of those doubts. Let's not insist that a person needs to be strong in faith before they come to the very source of faith.
Dr. John Pearrell is pastor of Gateway Community Church in Covington. For more information, visit the Gateway website at www.gatewaycommunity.org.