What is doubt


To doubt is to ask serious questions about your own beliefs.

Doubt is part of faith. There are different types of doubt. For example, one can doubt the Christian faith on an intellectual level, disapprove or reject it as a whole or certain aspects. Even in the middle of faith one can doubt: suddenly everything that one previously believed in threatens to collapse. One doubts, what about God's promise to save and redeem me? Is God still on my side at all? Luther called this experience “temptation”. For people in contention, everything is suddenly baseless and void, they doubt life itself. A bad experience, because with faith something breaks away that has gone deeper than intellectual deliberations can.

There are many stories in the Bible about doubt and how people deal with it. In the psalms, people complain to God, they simply shout out their suffering, as in Psalm 22, for example.

In the Psalms people also quarrel with God, reminding him of his promise to be faithful to themselves and to the people of Israel: “Our fathers hoped in you; and as they hoped, you helped them out. ”(Ps 22: 5) They trust that God will keep his faithfulness. From this trust they can say in the middle of their complaint: “You heard me! I want to make your name known to my brothers, I want to praise you in the church. ”(Ps 22: 22-23) As if they could move God himself with their words.


The biblical book of Job is a whole book about doubt. It tells of Job, who is hit by one stroke of fate after the other.

Job struggles with God in a very special way. Job not only complains to God of his suffering, he literally curses God (Job 3: 3) and is not satisfied with a prayer. He wants to see God face to face. When God appeared to him, his doubts were dispelled, he confessed: “I only heard from you from hearsay; but now my eye has seen you That is why I plead guilty and repent in dust and ashes. ”(Job 42, 5-6) The book ends with God blessing Job's life. He gives him twice as much as he has previously owned and gives him many children and grandchildren (Job 42: 10ff).

Peter too is gripped by a great moment of doubt in the New Testament.

Peter firmly believes that he has enough faith to walk on water like Jesus. But when he sees the strong storm and the waves, he becomes afraid and threatens to sink (Mt 14:30). Peter also screams out his fear. He calls to Jesus: "Lord, help me!" When he threatens to sink into the waves of the lake (Mt 14:30). He takes the hand that Jesus extends to him.

The whole ambivalence of doubts, the abysmal shock, but also the simultaneous desire to hold on to faith finally sums up a sentence in the New Testament: A father whose son is seriously ill cries to Jesus: “I believe; help my disbelief! "

Further content and links

  • ask

    How can one overcome doubts?

    Answer: Martin Luther was plagued by great doubts. “How do I get a righteous God?” He asked. As hard as he tried to lead a godly life, fear of the devil would not let go of him. He overcame his doubts by reading the Bible. He found texts in the Bible that helped him in his situation, for example the letter to the Romans. In it Luther found the sentence: "The righteous will live by faith". From then on he knew that the fact that he believed was enough to be loved by God. All he had to do was live by that belief.

    Sometimes just reading the Bible is not enough, or the questions you have are not answered in the Bible. You need people with whom you can talk about your doubts. These can be friends or relatives, but you can also ask your pastor for help. Most will happily take their time when asked. Or they will name another good contact person.

    Why does God allow suffering?

    Answer: Christians do not believe in a God who created a perfect world from the start that no longer changes. They believe that God has given people the freedom to choose how they want to live. But because people tend to do wrong from the start, they need the mercy and grace of God. God does not just stand by and watch. He gives people rules and instructions. And if they don't follow these rules - which happens all the time - it gives them another chance to do better next time.

    Today theologians emphasize more and more that all creation is a process. All the properties that are assigned to God - such as omnipotence, omnipresence and goodness, including the power to eliminate suffering - are there, but they must first assert themselves in the world. As long as that is so, it is clear that God is on the side of those who suffer. He showed that when Jesus died on the cross. God raised him from the dead. God suffers with and does not leave people alone in their suffering.

    People have asked themselves why there is suffering in the world since the Christian faith has existed. It is also called the theodicy question. The word “theodicy” is made up of the Greek words theós and díkē, which stand for “God” and “justice”. There have been other answers to the theodicy question throughout history.

    Some theologians say that one should not ask the theodicy question at all because people are not entitled to judge God's work. Others, like Martin Luther, say that people will experience everything when they are finally with God after the resurrection and when God completes his creation. Luther says: There is a dark side of God that people cannot decipher, but which will reveal itself in the end. There is also an idea that people must first go through a process of maturation before they can be redeemed. This idea goes back to Irenaeus of Lyon, who lived in the second century AD.


  • discussion

    The Second World War and the murder of six million Jews in the concentration camps gave theologians and philosophers a lot of thought. Under the central question “Where was God in Auschwitz?” They discussed whether one could still believe in God after the mass murder of European Jews.

    The Jewish philosopher Hans Jonas (1903–1993) answered the question why God did not intervene in Auschwitz: It was not that he did not want to intervene, he could not. For Jonas it was clear that God gave up his omnipotence with the creation of the world. He referred to the Jewish Kabbalah, the Jewish mysticism, according to which God in the act of creation out of love went out of himself completely and then withdrew completely into himself (the doctrine of "Tzimtzum"). Jonas said that God does not intervene in the course of the world with a strong arm, as the story of the Exodus tells, for example, but with the "silent wooing" for an "unfulfilled goal". It is up to the people to achieve this goal.

    The Protestant theologian Dorothee Sölle (1929–2003) went in a similar direction when she said that God is not omnipotent unless in his love. But it can only be lived by people. God suffers where this love is not returned, he was present in Auschwitz, for example in a little boy who was hanging on the gallows. Finally, the Protestant theologian Jürgen Moltmann (born 1926) writes in his book “The Crucified God” that God is a God who suffers. He died with Jesus Christ on the cross and was also with all the victims in Auschwitz. God was there in three ways: in the “pain of the Father”, the “surrender of the Son” and the “power of the Holy Spirit”. God shows himself as a trinity, which is also the goal for Moltmann: the transformation of pain into eternal joy in the resurrection of the murdered and gassed.

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  • Doubt is as old as God's story with man. The Bible is also full of stories about people who turn away from God, quarrel and struggle for their faith. What carries the faith? Does faith carry me? These questions are part of faith.

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  • Whoever prays turns to God. Everyone can do this in their own way, with their own words or with the words of well-known prayers such as the Our Father. Many put their hands together or fold them to collect themselves - some close their eyes.

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  • Suffering and illness are burdens that push people to their limits. The question of why God allows suffering remains painfully open. But many find support in their faith, especially in difficult times. In the Protestant Church there are many offers not to go through illness and crisis alone.

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