“I believe; help my unbelief!” cried the father of a demon-possessed boy (Mark 9:24). This cry of anguish is the cry necessarily which emerges from the mouth of every believer. Why? Our faith is growing. Our faith is incomplete. We are works in progress. We still have much to learn. In fact, Barnabas Piper argues, that questions are normal, even healthy in the Christian life. This is the essence of Piper’s newest book, Help My Unbelief
When the man in Mark 9 cried out, “I believe, help my unbelief,” he was uttering more than a mere statement. Piper adds, “Requests can stem only from belief, even it is just the tiniest inkling of belief.” This kind of reasoning should breathe hope, strength, and confidence in believers who doubt from time to time. For the very act of doubt, precipitates saving faith! Once again: we are in process. We are still growing. God is in the process of refining our faith. And he will complete the good work he started!
Piper introduces readers to the idea of “believing doubt.” He says, “Believing doubt will always anchor in God’s character and word as unshakeable and then take on questions that harass and attack.” While much harm can come from doubt, Piper maintains, “Doubt can save us from much trouble and lead to much knowledge … Doubt that seeks the truth and stems from the belief that God is the source of all truth.”
But the author also presents the idea of “unbelieving doubt.” “When unbelieving doubt poses a question, it is not interested in the answer for any reason other than to disprove it … These doubts are the wild monsters that wreck faith and destroy the simplistically peaceful Christian lives so many people try to lead.”
This doubt can surface in several ways – intellectual, emotional, or even theological. Truth be told, every Christian battles with unbelieving doubt. This is why the writer of Hebrews says, “See to it that none of you has a sinful unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.”
God has given us certain evidences of saving faith which include repentance, prayer, and humility: “Through repentance, prayer, and humility believers move away from unbelieving doubt and grow in holiness. The refusal to do these things is a spiritual red flag and evidence of wanting to be one’s own god.”
Piper discusses disobedience as unbelief: “Disobeying the command of God is disbelieving His character … He [God] is authority itself, the essence of perfect, flawless authority. To disobey is to deny this about him.” Piper also discusses obedience as belief. In a statement to is dripping with the wisdom of his father, he adds: “Obedience is not the end; God’s satisfaction in us and our pleasure in Him are. It doesn’t feel tangible in the moment, but as we grow in belief, we will find it gaining power over the desire to sin.” Pure Christian hedonism!
Walking in obedience to God is not a magic formula or a recipe for perfection in the Christian life. The author rightly notes, “Belief [which is to say – obedience to God] does not mean sin will go away … True belief is that which perpetually, magnetically pulls us toward the ‘not yet’ of Revelation 21.” Believing the promises of God and being satisfied with all that God is for us in Christ leads us in the direction of the new earth where Jesus will make all things new!
Help My Unbelief is a plea for a faith which is transparent and vulnerable. It is a call for vibrant Christian living in the face of unanswered questions. And if offer hope for people who are desperately looking for answers. The search for answers is welcomed here. Indeed, the search for truth is a vital part of the Christian life. The book is a call to action; action which is grounded in biblical faith. While faith may waver and is “prone to wonder” as Charles Wesley wrote, we can be assured that God will never leave us or forsake us. He will complete the good work he started.
“I believe; help my unbelief” represents the tension, the need the promise for every follower of Jesus. We do believe. We do live every day in great need. Our belief is imperfect, so we cry out for help. But that cry come from a place of belief. We hold fast to God even as we feel pulled by the current of doubt, fear, and temptation.”
– Barnabas Piper
I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review.