The Myth of Certainty. By Daniel Taylor. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1992. 158 pp. Paper, $9.99.
Many people in and out of church today struggle with the issue of doubt. Am I saved or I am lost? Is the Bible trustworthy?
With this book Taylor seeks to help such people. I appreciate his aim. It’s a good one. I, too, very much believe in helping those struggling with doubt.
However, while his motive may be excellent, his method is not. Taylor does not give the doubter anything concrete to grasp. In fact, as the title suggests, he feels that is important that the doubter recognizes that certainty is a myth.
You might think that the author would counsel doubters to eliminate their doubts before attempting to share the Gospel. However, since Taylor feels that total elimination of doubts is impossible, he suggests that “we [can] pass our faith on to others [even] if we are not certain about it ourselves” (p. 152)! He argues that “conviction” is all we need to share our faith.
Taylor is unclear as to whether he does or does not believe in eternal security: “Nothing worthwhile is easy, certainly not the life of faith in the twentieth century. Faith can be simultaneously incredibly strong and painfully fragile. Doctrines of eternal security notwithstanding, the choice to discontinue the whole experiment of seeking God is always present—as is the choice to begin, or to begin once more. These choices are sometimes made consciously, often by default. We tire of the struggle of faith as an athlete tires in a contest or a soldier grows weary in battle” (p. 112).
Taylor’s approach to the doubting of Christians in a nutshell is this: Doubts are a normal and healthy part of the Christian life. Don’t leave your church and Christianity simply because you have doubts. Instead, embrace your doubts, live with your doubts, be satisfied with probable truth.
This approach is misguided in my estimation. Doubters need to be shown the truth. They need to know that God wants them to be certain. When Jesus asked Martha if she believed in Him she did not give an equivocal answer (John 11:27). She gave a affirmative answer. She was certain. And, if Martha was certain, we can be too (cf. 1 John 5:13).
I don’t recommend this book.
Robert N. Wilkin
Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society