Doubt is a problem for people of faith.

In fact, for so many people, doubt is the antithesis to faith. Doubt is a weakness, a failing, an inability to be faithful enough. Just look at the way this idea is presented in our popular culture:

Doubt or faith, opposite signs. Two blank opposite signs against blue sky background.
Doubt and faith literally pointing in opposite directions
A man kneeling before a cross with the caption "Faith or Doubt?"
Faith or doubt

I’ve seen this problem manifest itself in a couple of troubling ways. First, are the people who insist that they are certain even when they are not. They live in a state of perpetual cognitive dissonance, clinging to their certain beliefs while attempting to shut out anything that might give them cause for doubt. They close themselves off to new insights, different opinions, and, ultimately, to the world itself in an exhausting effort to maintain their treasured certainty free from doubt.

Second are the people who acknowledge their doubt, but in so doing convince themselves that they are not faithful. And the questions that haunt them become increasingly painful: Why can’t I believe the way others do? What is wrong with me that I have doubt? Am I lost because I have doubt?

A Common Problem

I have seen this kind of painful questioning in the context of ministry. For years, I gave an annual “Faith Questions” sermon—a sermon in which members of the congregation asked me questions about matters of faith, the Bible, and so on. One year, I decided to do an entire sermon series on the most frequently asked questions that had come up in the previous nine years. Among the most commonly encountered questions was one that seemed to get asked in some form every year: “Am I lost if I have doubt?”

In the sermon that I preached as a part of that series, I argued that faith without doubt was impossible, both because doubt and uncertainty were inescapable, but also because true faith doesn’t ignore or shut out doubt, it requires it. The sermon seemed to resonate with a lot of people and when I shared a similar sermon in local congregations, the response was even more positive.

It was clear that I was on to something and that this was a message the people were longing to hear. When given the opportunity to write a book, this was the book that needed to be written.

And so, if you are a person struggling to maintain certainty in the face of encroaching doubt, or if you are the doubter who feels as if you’ve been failing at the enterprise of faith, you are the person I wrote The Certainty of Uncertainty for. The Certainty of Uncertainty is for you.

—Mark Schaefer
Author, The Certainty of Uncertainty

The Certainty of Uncertainty is available at Amazon and at other online retailers.