Doubting Doubt | Heart Doubts | Laurie Brenner

Luke 15:11-32

Review:  Celebrating Pentecost last week, we heard from three people about how they are responding to the Spirit in their own communities.  What captured your attention?  How do you respond to the Spirit?

Introduction: You doubt. You believe. What happens when you doubt your doubts? The great Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor tells us that in our modern age, it is no longer possible for us to believe and not doubt, and it's no longer possible to doubt and not believe. We live in a secular age, and our doubts are 'haunted' by a deep suspicion that the stories we tell ourselves about reality are too small. They are haunted by a deeper sense that the story of our lives is a much bigger, much greater story than we dare to believe. Jesus understands this. Although he first lived and taught in a pre-modern age, the stories he told were meant to blow up the petty stories of any age. He wants to unsettle our unbelief and draw us into a bigger story, the great story. And this is the story that moves us--together with our doubt and our belief--into a genuine hope we can live and share. In this series we look at five parables that challenge five defining dogmas of our culture. Is it possible that we will only find resolution to the stories of our lives when we find it in Jesus? He doesn't just challenge us with his parables; he haunts us with his resurrection life!

Lord Jesus, may we be accept the grace and love you show open to expressing our doubt, listening for your voice in the midst of it as we seek to more fully express our faith.  Amen.
Read: Luke 15:11-32

  1. In your opinion, what is the main truth in this story?   Are there other parables or passages in scripture that you know that address the same truth?


  1. The prodigal son thought he knew what was right for himself, and how to live. In our culture, we might say “follow your dreams” or “express yourself.”  Is that good advice?  Why or why not?
  2. The older brother, too, thought he knew what was right, and the younger brother sure wasn’t doing it.  Does this parable tell us to ignore bad behavior?  Why or why not?
  3. In verse 17, the younger brother “came to his senses.”  What does this story tell us about how we find our identity?  What is your experience of establishing your identity, or of coming to your senses?
  4. In this series on doubt, we’ve looked at how our current cultural context affects us, particularly in terms of faith and doubt.  George has said the opposite of faith is not doubt, but control.  He also talked about the opposite of doubt being trust.  Are these statements consistent with your understanding of faith and doubt? 

Application:  This week, reflect on the grace shown by the father to each son in the parable.  Think about how God has shown grace to you, and to others you know.  How could you throw a party of gratitude for the extravagance of God’s grace?

Pray:  Lord, thank you for the grace we experience, and for the grace we see you giving to others.  Help us to celebrate that grace together and to support each other as we believe and doubt and receive grace upon grace.  Amen.

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