Friday, November 27, 2009

Doubts and Unbelief

At a Higher Things gathering a couple of years ago, I noticed one sectional on doubts, and how doubts are normal, but are different from unbelief.

At symposium a few years ago, I remember one of the popular professors standing in front of the assembly, saying how wrong it was for these young pastors to get into their pulpits and speak to their congregations as if they were unbelievers, as if they needed to be converted.

But doubts are unbelief.

Why are we reluctant to say that Christians are --at the same time they are believers-- also unbelievers? We say that we believe we are simul justus et peccator (at one and the same time, saint and sinner). We know that all sin flows from unbelief. If we are sinners, we are unbelievers. But Christians are also believers/saints.

So the law must be preached to kill the sinner, to crush him, to make him hopeless, so that he will find his only hope and comfort in Christ's forgiveness. The law must be preached to both believers and unbelievers as if they needed conversion ... because Christians are still plagued by the Old Adam. As we studied Hosea last week, a question came up: "Is Hosea calling for Israel's repentance because they are believers whose sinful nature needs to be killed? Or are they apostate and in need of conversion?" Pastor's answer was "yes." Both are true. He explained that not only is our unbelief serious and damnable, but that (if left unrepented, if left for us to solve in our own ways, if not smashed) it will lead to full-blown apostasy.

When we minimize the seriousness and depth of original sin, when we reason away the wrath of God, when we change our view of hell --when we do not see that we are believers/unbelievers at the same time-- we are on the road toward apostasy.

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