In the wake of our new pandemic reality, there has been no shortage of articles, videos, or memes to help guide us from a place of struggle to a meditation on hope. It is important to remember that these calls for hope in a time a trial are not uniquely the work of the church.

It appears that the world at large is being quieted and called to consider life, death, and meaning. Gone are the days where societal fragility was assumed to be something we have evolved beyond. These are trying times and trying times are times of opportunity. This is not a call for the church to revel in or capitalize on the sufferings of others. This is a call to be prepared to answer the questions that are coming our way.

As our friends, families, and neighbours grow more aware of their limitations, there is reason to believe that many will reconsider their stance on the person and plan of God. For some, this will mean a reconsideration of ideas they had once rejected. They will question their ignorance or rejection of God. Others will consider the faith they had once abandoned and reconsider their reasonings for disbelief.

Help my Unbelief

Help my Unbelief

The Good Book Company. 176.

Liberal theology is a product of a post-modern thought that often encourages doubt for the sake of doubting. Without wading into these toxic waters, Piper calls out those who refuse to ask questions and wrestle with doubt. He challenges the depth of faith in the unquestioning believer.

The Good Book Company. 176.

Even before this outbreak, an unfortunately large sector of Christianity was teaching that the protections of Christ include immunity to the trappings of a fallen world. This grappling with fear and death will no doubt temp people of faith to consider walking away.

To be certain, all of these wrestlings are positive. They are opportunities for an individual to understand the tensions between belief and unbelief. My desire is to see the church come alongside and spiritually nurture those who would ask such questions so that we meaningfully and biblically point them to faith in the God of Salvation. The year’s best resource for walking people through doubt and into faith is Help My Unbelief by Barnabas Piper.

The Piper name is going to be familiar, but do not mistake this book for a product of piggy-backing off of his father’s fame. What Piper delivers here is all his own. The book is, by no means, a memoir, but Piper does lean into his own personal story when it is suitable for bringing light and application to the greater message.

The result is a book that is relatable in that there is no feeling as if it were issued from an ivory tower; yet it is well thought out and interactive so that it doesn’t feel like the opinions of your neighbour. I think this book is universally helpful, but here is a sampling of the kinds of people I would most recommend this book to.

The Churched Kid

Piper’s story is that of a pastor’s kid. He describes himself as a bit unruly, but one who participated in everything that a good, churched boy should participate in. He was there for church events, knew the answers to all the questions, and participated well as a young believer.

Like many of us who share this upbringing, Piper eventually faced a crisis of faith. He came to a the conclusion that the faith he claimed with his mouth and that which he claimed with his actions were not one and the same. These stories often end tragically, but Piper shows us that this doesn’t have to be the case.

The Struggling Believer

Piper reminds us that our road of sanctification is not a smooth and steady progression. In times of crisis, Christians can question the existence of their God and the validity of their faith. Help My Unbelief will equip believers to wrestle with these crises in a way that glorifies God and leads to faith. Piper also speaks to those doubts that come from learning more about God.

He points to his father’s story of coming to terms with the truths of biblical doctrine when these truths don’t exactly line up with our personal expectations and values. Struggling with the person and plan of God can end in surrender to unbelief. Piper shows us that these struggles can be handled in such a way as to deepen our faith and draw us nearer to our God.

Those Who Are Afraid of Questions

Liberal theology is a product of a post-modern thought that often encourages doubt for the sake of doubting. Without wading into these toxic waters, Piper calls out those who refuse to ask questions and wrestle with doubt. He challenges the depth of faith in the unquestioning believer.

Some fear that a questioning faith is faithlessness and dishonouring to God. Others have fallen into the trap of Christian anti-intellectualism and fear that finding answers to their questions will lead them out of faith. Piper suggests that those who are covering their ears and suppressing their question are ultimately hindering and not guarding faith. After all, how can the finite truly explore the infinite without being challenged along the way?

The Unbeliever

Piper doesn’t forget about the journey of the unbeliever. He briefly recounts the story of C.S. Lewis in order to highlight the way that revelations of truth can come “little by little” and with much wrestling.

He contrasts Lewis’s journey with those of Nietzsche, Hitchens, and Dawkins whose doubt is an unbelieving doubt seeking solitude in the question rather than truth in an answer (83). He teaches the reader how to ask questions of God in faith that God is gracious to show himself.

The Mentor

It could very well be that you don’t find yourself in any of these categories. Maybe you have learned these truths along the way and are at ease with praying, “I believe; help my unbelief.” What Piper offers in Help My Unbelief is a well thought out and accessible plan.

If you are reaching out to the lost, volunteering with churched youth/young adults, or, in any way engaging with the church in deep and meaningful discussions Piper’s book is more than something you should recommend— it’s something you should read. When you’re done, you’ll be better equipped to grow in your faith and lead others to do the same.

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