It may be a strange thing to admit, but I have many doubts about Christianity. There are questions I have that do sometimes give me pause and leave me wondering if all of this could be an elaborate hoax. The times are generally brief, but quite scary. Everyone goes through doubts, which is perfectly healthy. I tend to think if you are not challenging and raising questions about what you believe, you probably are going to get hit by something you are not prepared for. With that said, what do we do when something hits us that we don’t know how to answer? Where do we go when we find ourselves questioning the entire faith? I find myself remembering the words of the apostle Peter. “Lord, to whom shall we go?”
“Lord, to Whom Shall We Go?”
These words come from John chapter 6. Jesus has just given his bread of life sermon. For many of those following Jesus, this message was a step too far, and they decided to leave. Jesus asks the remaining 12 apostles if they also want to leave. Peter responds with one of his famous declarations. “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”
This confession has quickly become one of my favorite passages, and one I regularly come back to in moments of doubt. It serves as a strong confession and reminder of a few important truths.
Doubts Don’t Go Away with Other Worldviews
It is a mistake to assume that just because you stop believing in God or Jesus that all doubts go away. If anything, it raises more questions. Miracles don’t exist? You now have to explain away every single supernatural account in the history of the world in a naturalistic way. Jesus was just a man, who was blown up into a divine myth over time? We’ve got thick stacks of early accounts that will need to be explained then.
Of course, there’s the problem of evil and suffering. Bertrand Russel once said, “No one can sit at the bedside of a dying child and still believe in God.” Many Christian thinkers have responded by turning the thought back. “What do you say as an atheist to a dying child, Bertrand?” If there is no God, what hope or comfort can you give? “Tough luck, kid. The universe is a cruel place with no meaning. You were going to die eventually anyway.” I can’t answer every question about the world or Christianity. But as Peter pointed out, “Who else has the word of life?” Bertrand certainly doesn’t.
Reading Peter’s statement, I couldn’t help but be reminded of Pascal’s famous wager. Pascal lays out the pros and cons of becoming a Christian. Simply put, if you are right as a Christian, you have everything to gain, and nothing to lose if you are wrong. If you are right as an atheist, you have nothing to gain and everything to lose. I know many skeptics find the wager ridiculous, especially disagreeing with the “nothing to lose” part of becoming a Christian. I’m not even necessarily bringing this up as an argument, so much as a reminder of the stakes. If I am wrong, and there is no God, then the worst-case scenario is that I wasted my time on this Earth, when my life ultimately had no meaning anyway. If I am right, and there is a God who has revealed himself to humanity and wants to know us, why would I risk losing that? Where else would I go?
My favorite character in C.S. Lewis’ the Chronicles of Narnia is, the pessimistic marsh-wiggle, Puddleglum. In the climax of “The Silver Chair,” he resists the magic of the evil queen, who is trying to make everyone forget the world above the ground as a silly dream. He declares, “Suppose we have only dreamed and made up these things like sun, sky, stars, and moon, and Aslan himself. In that case, it seems to me that the made-up things are a good deal better than the real ones. And if this black pit of a kingdom is the best you can make, then it’s a poor world. And we four can make a dream world to lick your real one hollow.”
Before you ask, I’m not then saying that if Christianity is not true, we should pretend that it is. Neither we nor Puddleglum are in that situation. We have good reasons to believe that there is a God, miracles are possible, and Jesus did rise from the grave. Sometimes it is hard to believe, and doubts creep in. That’s okay, but consider the question, “Lord to whom shall we go?” I could abandon this belief, but for what alternative? A black pit of despair, where there are just as many unanswerable questions and everything ends in a meaningless death? It’s a very poor world, that I don’t buy.
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