As a pastor, as one who grew up in a evangelical environment, and as a Christian college and evangelical-holiness seminary graduate, one of the biggest elephants in the sanctuary of the church is doubt. In his book, Help My Unbelief: Why Doubt is not the Enemy of Faith (David C Cook, 2015) Barnabas Piper calls out this elephant and offers readers a chance, perhaps for the first time, to consider doubt not as an enemy but an ally of faith.
Piper does so by first, honestly presenting his own journey through doubt and second, by reaffirming the experience of faith which goes beyond an intellectual belief. The result is both an honest and hopeful view for those who believe… and yet… struggle to believe.
Lord, I believe, help my unbelief.
Piper brings in the story of the desperate father, seeking Jesus to deliver his son from an evil spirit as recorded in Mark 9:14-27, who says to Jesus in a moment of desperation “I believe, help my unbelief” as a launching point for what follows in the book AND what follows in Piper’s life because, as he writes, “In five words he explained so much of the Christian’s experience, of my experience.” From there Piper shares his journey from having a faith based on mere mental assent to a set of suppositions to one based on a transformative faith.
In a very key part of the book Piper does a wonderful job of distinguishing between two kinds of doubt: unbelieving doubt and believing doubt. He calls unbelieving doubt “that which cripples” and believing doubt as one which “strengthens our beliefs.” I think that Piper is right here and I think that the desperate father of Mark 9 was a person of believing doubt.
But there is more in this book a certain segment of people that I called the “evangelically educated” will find very helpful as they wrestle with their doubt about the Christian faith and all that entails. But I also believe that Piper does a very good job of broadening in a biblically faithful way the place where doubt intersects with the questions many people, not just the “evangelically educated,” wrestle with – the Trinity, the relationship of science and faith, and other such questions. And as he does, the reader is invited into doubt as a door way to a greater and deeper faith in Christ.
I found myself nodding in agreement with Piper throughout this book. I saw my own doubts in this book at well. I heard part of my story in this book.
I will be recommending this book to others, especially young adults, as a way of helping them understand that doubt can be, and is, a doorway to a greater and more personal faith in Christ.
On my rating scale, I rate this book as an”outstanding” read.
Note: I received a electronic galley copy of this book from the publisher via Net Galley in exchange for a review of the book. I was not required to write a positive review.