Do you wonder why you keep doubting the Bible?
No matter what you do, you can't seem to get your spiritual questions answered. You're the "Doubting Thomas," fervently devoted to your Lord but plagued by doubts that just won't go away.
Why does this happen to some people? Why do we get spiritual doubts about things we thought we knew the answer to?
There are three main reasons why it feels like you're always doubting the Bible.
Before you move on, be sure to like my Facebook page, follow me on Twitter, and subscribe to my Youtube channel for secrets and insights about religious OCD.
Reasons for Doubting the Bible
You’ve made a transition to a more secular school or workplace and might find yourself encountering an onslaught of objections to the Biblical message.
You've experienced unresolved trauma or loss in which you can’t seem to reconcile your understanding about God with the terrible thing that happened.
You have scrupulosity (also called moral or spiritual OCD), a term to describe religious manifestations of an obsessive-compulsive disorder.
The good news is that each of these three reasons can be addressed and solved. Let's look at them in more detail.
1. Always Doubting the Bible Because of Worldview Crisis
The first reason why it can feel like we are always doubting the Bible is because of worldview crisis.
If you’ve been raised in a conservative Christian environment and have recently made a transition to a more secular school or workplace, you might find yourself encountering an onslaught of objections to the Biblical message.
This can be overwhelming as new and conflicting information stretches your Christian worldview almost to the breaking point.
Typically, people experiencing worldview crisis due to religion don’t stay for a very long time in this stage of cognitive dissonance, because it’s just too much mental effort to keep it up. They will often either move to a non-religious stance or vigorously engage their doubts, research answers, and come out the other side of the crisis much stronger.
2. Always Doubting the Bible Because of Unresolved Trauma
The second reason you may feel like you're always doubting the Bible may be from unresolved trauma or loss in which you can’t seem to reconcile your understanding about God with the terrible thing that happened.
If you’ve experienced the death of a loved one, rape, incest, abuse, neglect, or even the loss of something very dear to you, like a relationship or a job, these can be very tough to reconcile with religion.
If God is love, why does He let bad things happen? If God is powerful, why didn’t He stop it? These kinds of questions can lead to a persistent feeling of distrust for God and chronic doubts about the Bible.
If this describes you, what you need to know is that God welcomes your doubts and questions, and He is strong enough to handle the full depth of your emotions.
Sometimes we tip-toe around God and pray very politely when inside we’re actually confused and seething with anger.
If this describes you, I would recommend researching something called “theodicy,” which is basically the theological term for how to answer the question of why God allows bad things to happen to good people. If reason two describes you, please take a look at this video. It will give you comprehensive answers to the questions surrounding the issue of "theodicy":
3. Always Doubting the Bible Because of Scrupulosity
The third reason why people might experience recurrent, distressing, sticky doubts about the Bible is something called scrupulosity.
Scrupulosity is a term to describe religious manifestations of obsessive-compulsive disorder.
A lot of people think that OCD is this cute and quirky little disorder, but it can actually be severely debilitating and is definitely something to take seriously. OCD affects about 1 - 3% of the world’s population. Not everyone with OCD has religious obsessions and compulsions, but many do.
Symptoms of scrupulosity include chronic doubts about the Bible, about your salvation, about whether you have sinned or not, or about whether you are following God’s will.
It often includes something called “intrusive thoughts,” which are really weird and distressing thoughts that just pop into your head and cause a lot of distress but won’t go away no matter how hard you try.
Intrusive thoughts might be an urge to curse God, a scary thought that maybe you have denied Christ or sold your soul to the devil, or a fear that you might lose control and hurt someone.
If any of this sounds like you, I would encourage you to take the free scrupulosity test below to find out your likelihood of having religious OCD. You will receive instant results.
Moral OCD can be a VERY distressing condition. But what you need to know is that scrupulosity is not a lack of faith, it is not sinful, it is a mental health hijacking of your relationship with God — and it is something that can be fixed. If your results show that you are likely to have scrupulosity, go ahead and read my complete guide on spiritual OCD.
Scrupulosity is not a lack of faith, it is not sinful, it is a mental health hijacking of your relationship with God
So these are our three main reasons why you might be experiencing chronic doubt about the Bible — worldview crisis, unresolved trauma, or scrupulosity. I hope this gives you some helpful insight and maybe suggests a direction to do more research.
If you have other questions about chronic spiritual doubt and anxiety that you would like to have answered, drop me a comment below and I will do my best to answer it in an upcoming video and/or article.
Best wishes on the journey!
Hi Jaimie, I'm not sure if I am looking for an answer because I think I will always have more questions and it can become a spiral but I struggle with scrupulosity and the major thing for me at the moment is the existence of hell and I get completely overwhelmed with the thought of it (mainly for others not myself but I think I also follow God out of the fear of going to hell). Whenever I think about it dread comes over me and sadness for others but to the point that I really doubt God is good and cant understand why on earth he would allow there to be such a place. I am also really struggling with views of the world in terms of LGBTQ and am so scared of saying my views as I know they are contrary to what many people think. I am also scared of not speaking up because I think God will be disappointed. I feel like I am not certain about 'the hope I have' and although I want to research more about my faith and others to be more certain I feel it will make me more anxious. What if I do decide I don't want God anymore and what if I am following out of fear?…so many more questions but this sums up my experience.
I do know what you mean. There is a movie on YouTube called “Hell and Mr. Fudge,” a Christian movie that documents the true story of a pastor who began to question the traditional, very terrifying view of hell. The movie follows his biblical research and shows his conclusions. I do think the doctrine of hell is much more nuanced than most people think, and in our eagerness to get people to follow Jesus we have added some scary things to Scripture that are not actually there. I would recommend watching the video if this is a topic that you struggle with.
Thank you for this post. I'm curious if it's possible for someone to be experiencing both a worldview crisis *and* OCD doubts. In other words, they are having a worldview crisis – and their OCD is keeping them stuck in it and unable to resolve the crisis one way or the other and move forward (the way someone who doesn't have OCD would be able to do). How would someone deal with that? Thanks.
Yes, I think that’s totally plausible, although I can’t say for certain that that’s what you’re experiencing since I don’t know the details of your story. Part of the scrupulosity recovery experience involves picking apart the difference between valid spiritual growth (that can include the benefits of having a worldview crisis, even though a worldview crisis doesn’t feel good in the present moment) versus the false guilt and chronic doubt of OCD, which is unhelpful. I think learning how to deal with chronic doubt would be your most helpful next move. I go into detail on that in my master class on scrupulosity recovery, which will be available in July. That might be a good next step for you.
Thanks Jaimie. I said that I have OCD, and I think that is true from reading about it, but not sure. If my anxiety is driven by something that is true (not imagination – like most OCD bleifs, like hand washing, etc.), is it still OCD? For example, most of anxiety is driven from what I believe about salvation. I believe that God choses who gets saved – and of course not everyone gets saved. Jesus said, no one can come to me unless the Holy Spirit draws them and that a person must be born of God to even see the kingdom. I believe those mean that I must be one of the few that God has chosen for salvation or I go to hell. This reality (which I believe is true) terrifies me day and night. It has for years. Is this OCD or just a terrible fear of what I believe is real? Will OCD treatment help this? Someone told me about ERP a few years ago and I have tried to keep exposing myself to the facts of this truth and that I might be going to hell, but it only makes the anxiety worse. I have tried that exposure for a few years now and it never makes me any better. Thanks for any thoughts on if you think I should see more treatment or not.
Hi, Sean. I can definitely see how you could be struggling. I’d love to get together with you and talk more, because I think if we could go a little deeper into your beliefs and experience we could better diagnose what’s going on spiritually.
But for now, a few thoughts in response to your explanation:
1. Typically, the anxiety of scrupulosity is not sourced from the imagination. What’s actually going on with scrupulous anxiety is an overemphasis and overly intense concern about things that are generally true. For example, being concerned about your salvation or being aware of the reality that it is possible to grieve the Holy Spirit are not sourced from the imagination, but the scrupulous person takes these things to an extreme because of their unique brain wiring and mental constitution.
2. It is also possible for there to be theological look-alikes to scrupulosity. Someone may be completely free of any kind of clinical OCD but have an experience similar to scrupulosity because of a) missing blank spots in your theology, b) a history of abuse from spiritual leaders, c) legalism. (I talk more about spiritual hang-ups that can cause scrupulosity look-alike symptoms in this article.) If you have not been formally diagnosed with OCD, it’s hard for me to tell you whether you actually have scrupulosity or whether you have a scrupulosity look-alike. We would need to talk more to find out. In either situation, though, there are definite ways forward.
3. ERP is a very good but tough treatment. I would say it’s not a good idea to try it solo. If you’ve been trying it and it hasn’t been working, this could mean that a) you don’t have OCD or b) you’re not doing it correctly (if you learned it from a friend rather than a therapist, this would be through no fault of your own).
I would encourage you to check out the article I’ve linked above as well as other articles on my website. See if you find anything useful there. If you’d like us to explore your case together in more detail, you can see if I have any availabilities that work for you, which you can find by clicking on the tab at the top that says “Work with Me” and scrolling all the way down to the bottom.
Hope something here will give you some direction in resolving this spiritual anxiety. God’s blessings.
Nice website. Great information. I am a Calvinist with OCD. Wondering if you have ever worked with or can help a Calvinist with OCD?
Hi, Sean! Thanks for asking. In fact, much of the emphasis from Reformed traditions about the sovereignty of God is very helpful for people with scrupulosity. I do work with people of all religious and denominational backgrounds. You can find out more on my About page!