The other day I came across the following passage in a Peter Kreeft book:
“Dullness, not doubt, is the strongest enemy of faith, just as indifference, not hate, is the strongest enemy of love.” (Everything you ever wanted to know about Heaven, 20)
That gets my vote for thought provoking quote of the day, and it rings true to my own experience. As some of you know I have written and spoken a number of times on doubt in the life of the Christian. Doubt, I have argued, is a sign of the health of one’s faith. It is like the feeling of pain as marking the sign of health in one’s body. It is when you no longer feel pain that you need to start worrying. (Think of the man trapped in the blizzard who observes: “Strange, my toes were so cold a moment ago but I can’t feel them anymore”.) Likewise it is when people treat the central claims of Christianity with a “whatever” shrug that we need to worry.
As plausible as the analysis may be, it is not without problems. Here is the most obvious one: the devil and his minions are not maximally apathetic about Christian truth claims. Rather, they hate, despise, revile these truths. “Jesus is Lord and God raised him from the dead” is not a claim that Lucifer meets with a yawn and a shrug. It is, on the contrary, a truth that is the cause of insane rage. (Picture Salieri in the film “Amadeus” conceding with rage that Mozart is indeed a vastly superior genius. It is a truth about which Salieri has no doubt and certainly no apathy. On the contrary, it is a truth he knows and hates because he hates the true state of affairs it describes.)
If Kreeft is right then it would seem to imply Satan is not as badly off as he could be, for we can picture a devil still worse, namely one who doesn’t give a damn (I use that word advisedly) about the truths of the gospel. But that can’t be right.
So where does that leave us? Is Kreeft correct that dullness (or apathy) is the greatest enemy of faith? Or is it hatred?
One thing is clear: whether we identify dullness or hatred of a claim as the ultimate enemy of faith, doubt most clearly is not. And for the many of us who find ourselves doubting various Christian claims from time to time, that is a good word indeed.