I’m reading through a few of these “Questions Christians Ask” books that The Good Book Company have published over the past number of years. They’re all fairly short and to the point and therefore fairly readable, but I’m discovering that the differing tones in each makes quite a big difference! But more of that in a second.
John Stevens approaches the topic of doubt vs unbelief by observing first that “doubt is one of the hidden struggles that many Christians face. Christians know they are meant to be people of ‘faith’, and so they find it hard to admit that they are struggling with doubt.” Stevens recognises that there is this difficulty but also that “it is vital that we are honest about the problem, so that we can find help and recover a joyful and confident faith.” That is what he aims to do, fairly successfully I think, throughout the rest of the book.
He first discusses what doubt is, how it is different from unbelief, and how the latter is a sinful attitude but the former is not necessarily. He then goes onto explore how a believer can be confident of the genuineness of his or her faith, and steps that they can take to overcome doubt and find new confidence in their faith.
While I found a lot of what Stevens says in this book helpful, and certainly biblical, the tone could have been warmer I felt. Rather than a pastoral exhortation and encouragement, it felt more like a discursive essay on doubt and then a series of action points. Maybe this seems harsh, but particularly with a topic as sensitive as a person’s assurance, I feel that the more pastoral the better! Generally though, this was a fine read and is biblical and therefore I would recommend it, but I might be on the lookout for another option on assurance to make my go-to book on assurance.