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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

"Despite Doubt" (Michael E. Wittmer)

TITLE: Despite Doubt: Embracing a Confident Faith
AUTHOR: Michael E. Wittmer
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Discovery House Publishers, 2013, (192 pages).

This book is a bold attempt to repel the undercurrents of skepticism and sarcasm that surround an uncritical acceptance of science as well as a misunderstanding of doubt. Wittmer identifies two ways in which one can deal with doubts. The first is to boldly face them as "questions" to either clarify or to gain answers. Approach such doubts with courage and openness toward learning. The second is to remember that not all doubts are legitimate and thus not to be taken too seriously. Approach such doubts without fear of them trying to dislodge faith. For truth after all will not contradict itself.

Part One comprises of 12 chapters on the modern challenges to one's "belief in God." Wittmer looks at the state of skepticism in our society, that the modern man's default position is to doubt first, believe later, if not never. Such a skepticism did not happen overnight. In fact, one of the downsides of scientific advancement is the need to prove something, or to figure out something so that we can control. The trouble is, can we really prove God or figure God out on our own? From secularism breeds pluralism which seems to give equal authority to every religion. Taking a look at the phrase "leap of faith," readers learn that faith is not about believing without proof but trusting without reservation. Facts are established with a revealed knowledge. God exists not because man says so, but because God has said so. Looking at the Doug Wilson and Christopher Hitchens debate, the point is made that even the statement: "There is no God" presumes that the statement itself is a legitimate, logical, and absolute statement. In Jesus, we see who God is. In the Bible, we know that God has been reaching out to man all the time. Only through belief, one can breakout to the next level of knowledge from earthly to heavenly. Slowly toward the middle of the book, readers will detect a change of tide from doubt to faith.

Part Two turns toward asking what it means to follow God. There are at least ten reasons. We trust a God who is known. Wittmer makes a compelling statement that says: "Faith starts from assurance and proceeds to risk." A man of faith and faithfulness can achieve things beyond one's perceived limitations. Based on a promise given, there is more reason for optimism in life. Obeying God's command and following God's will are some of the desires that believers willingly do. Believers exercise faith when they answer the call of God. They produce fruit in good works. They are sustained with an assurance in God. Even the history books are filled with heroes of faith who have given us powerful testimonies of faith. For every case of doubt, there are many more cases of faith. That is why Christians need not fear doubt. They can "doubt away" knowing that if God is indeed true, there is no way any doubt can erase that truth. Doubts when approached constructively can enrich one's faith.

This book is deceptively simple. Between the pages of the brief chapters, there are lots of insights about apologetics, culture, postmodernity, spiritual disciplines, knowledge, faith, trust, hope, and many facets of the Christian life. For me,chapters 1 to 3 together are already worth the price of the book. Be free to "doubt away" but be even more free to embrace faith. Sometimes, small looking books contain the biggest gems. This is one such book.

Rating: 4.25 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of Discovery House Publishers and Karen Campbell Media in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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