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By Joshua Vis

I know you worry about your doubt. You have been taught that your doubt is tolerable, but not desirable.

I love your doubt.

I love your questions, your unknowing, your fear.

Your doubt has so many good questions, questions that seek God, questions that lead to new life.

Your doubt withholds judgment, sees broken people.

Your certainty loves the right ideas, is easily outraged.

Your certainty has no room for questions, no need for seeking, no need for anything new.

I see your pain in your doubt. Your certainty hides your pain from me, and it is our pain that connects us.

Your certainty fears my doubt. Your certainty desires my certainty. But I have no certainty to give you.

I used to have certainty. But my certainty scared others, shamed them. It shamed me too, because I had doubt.

My certainty needed to dominate all doubt. But my doubt did not wish to become certainty. It was content to be doubt.

So I let go of my certainty. It was scary, but I don’t miss it.

I was left with my doubt.

My doubt is unconventional and creative, full of ideas.

My doubt is gentle and kind, and so is your doubt.

Your doubt sees me, accepts me, comforts me. Your doubt does not need to change me.

Your doubt is gracious and inviting. Your doubt reaches out and touches me. It brings me life.

So don’t hide your doubt from me.

Your doubt is beautiful.

Joshua Vis

Joshua Vis serves as the Church Engagement Facilitator for Israel/Palestine with the Reformed Church in America.


  • Andrea DeWard says:

    Josh, this post and your previous on Lent without Easter have spoken with grace and courage the things many think about but don’t know how/where/when to explore those potentially difficult and fragile things.
    Thanks for giving space to wonder and wander into the expanse of faith and life experiences with all the questions and vulnerable emotions and thought processes.

  • Sarina Moore says:

    Beautiful and true and courageous.

  • Love the sentiment my colleague, JRK

  • Loomis Jim & Terri says:

    Josh, Your words echo our thoughts. You sound just like your father. Bravo!

  • Eric Van Dyken says:

    Certainly doubt is an ever present reality for humans, Christians not being immune. I don’t doubt for a second that many times we have conditioned ourselves and others to hide our doubts, rather than express them openly like the psalmists. Such is not healthy or conducive to growth together. But I think that the author swings the pendulum too far in the other direction in his seemingly limitless veneration of doubt and simultaneous castigation of certainty. A few thoughts occur to me:
    1) The Bible presents certainty in a much more flattering light than does the author, who seems to only want to associate certainty with pride, easy outrage, secrecy, close-mindedness, scaring and shaming others, dominance, etc. The essence of the Christian life is a life of certainty, with faith being defined as certainty (being sure). Paul was absolutely convinced (certain) of many things, and did not shy away from chastising doubt and praising certainty. The psalmists were the most apt to voice doubts, but almost exclusively would conclude with certainty. The Bible gives little reason to believe that doubt in and of itself is virtuous or a desirable endpoint.
    2) The idea that certainty is antithetical to the virtues of grace, invitation, gentleness, kindness, comfort, acceptance, etc. is a canard.
    3) What the author fails to elucidate are the objects of these amorphous ideas of doubt and certainty, making the article have a pleasing aesthetic to those prone to want to foster their doubt, but offering little that is tangible or helpful. Does the author doubt his name? I’m certain that my name is Eric. Is this undesirable? Does the author doubt the divinity of Jesus? The resurrection? The forgiveness of sins? We’re left to guess. Praising doubt without the context of the object of that doubt is fairly meaningless. Likewise with certainty. Certainty in regards to some topics is also foolish, to the extent that we see in a mirror dimly.
    4) It seems to me that a healthy and biblical approach is to be certain about the things that God give us reason (or even command) to be certain about, and to be uncertain (or doubtful if you prefer) about the things that God has not fully revealed or made plain. All along the way we can allow grace for ourselves and others as we journey together, making room for the honest expression of doubts of all kinds. This does not necessitate that we act as if doubt is virtuous or a laudable state of being over against certainty.

  • Sara Tolsma says:

    I needed your words this week. Thank you!

  • jason batts says:

    Really good writing Josh. I would even call it poetic.

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