Monday, September 16, 2013

Review of Despite Doubt by Michael Wittmer



Despite Doubt is a forthcoming work by Michael Wittmer that aims to deal with the discussion about the role of doubt in the Christian's faith.  I am not sure if the timing of its release is strategic or Providential, or a bit of both, but it serves as a great counterpoint to Gregg Boyd's latest work, The Benefit of Doubt.


Wittmer is Professor of Systematic Theology at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary, where he also directs the Center for Christian Worldview. He is the authored multiple books including Heaven Is a Place on Earth, which is on my “to be read” list.

Wittmer sets out to argue against the idea that faith is a leap into the unkown, that it is as Elizabeth Gilbert puts it:
Faith is walking face-first and full-speed into the dark. If we truly knew all the answers in advance as to the meaning of life and the nature of God and the destiny of our souls, our belief would not be a leap of faith and it would not be a courageous act of humanity; it would just be... a prudent insurance policy.
This false dichotmomy that pits faith agaisnt knowledge is a large portion of what Wittmer addresses.  He argues against the idea that risk, rather than simply accompanying faith, is the essence of faith.  Scripture nowhere commands or affirms a faith as a "blind leap" and Wittmer presents a formidable case agaisnt this notion.  Wittmer affirms the Reformation tri-fold formulation of faith(notia, assensus, and fiducia) where faith is knowledge of God and His salvation, acknowledging that the case presented in Scriptures is objectively true, and wholeheartedly trusting this truth.  He quotes the Heidelberg Catechism that "(t)rue faith is not only a knowledge and conviction that everything God reveals in his word true, it is also a hearty trust."

Witmer's work is a pleasant blend of exegesis, philosophy, and apologetics.  It is a helpful and sincere look into the topic of faith and doubt.  It is simultaneously theological and practical, utilizing Scripture, arguments, and real life anecdotes to make the point that faith is trusting in what we know rather than a blind leap into the unknown.

Despite Doubt features a wide variety of topics, concise chapters, a clear and engaging style of writing, and a respect of and submission to God's word as our ultimate source of truth and knowledge.

I received a copy of this book through Netgalley.com for review purposes.