As you go off to college you will be blessed with meeting all kinds of people. I know you won’t be afraid of getting to know them, and I’m excited for the opportunity that awaits you. What I do encourage is that you be unafraid of asking questions and of being asked questions.
Your fellow students and the faculty(!) are there to learn and so are you, and you will not learn all you can unless you question everything and everyone. Others will not receive the full benefit of your friendship and/or your presence at the university if out of fear you refuse to ask and be asked tough questions.
Do not be afraid to ask, Why? Why do you do that? Why do you think like that? Why do you choose to live that way?
Do not be afraid to question those in authority! In the famous words used by Ronald Reagan, “Trust but verify.”
Trust that your professors know something of what they’re talking about. Trust that they’re interested in the subject enough to have studied it. But remember, they’re human beings, prone to unwitting blindness as well as willful distortions of the truth. Check it out for yourself. Follow the Renaissance dictum, “Back to the sources!”
Question yourself, and let yourself be questioned! Don’t blindly trust yourself, verify! Remember you too are human, prone to unwitting blindness and willful distortions of the truth.
Be not afraid of those who criticize views they don’t understand! If someone can’t say in their own words the reasons why someone would hold an opposing view you know they have not sought to understand, and you should ignore completely whatever criticisms they bring against that view. I don’t care how distinguished a person they may be. They may be the faculty head of a department! Who cares! Be not afraid!
Finally, be not afraid if your questions lead you to more fully affirm your faith. I’ve known the faith you’ve had as a child, and the questions you’ve had as a teenager. Be not afraid of your questions leading you to real answers! As you know, I’m convinced that much of what passes as intellectual doubt about faith is really fear, fear of it all being true and believing that if it is true it means a diminished life.
The assumption (usually unexamined and unacknowledged) is that if there’s a personal-infinite God who has spoken so as to be known life will be less fun, less exciting. The origin of sin is to believe that fullness of life (including fun and excitement) is to be found in determining life for ourselves apart from God (the point of Genesis 1-3).
Don’t be afraid of believing the promise of Christ, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10 NIV), and then making the leap into his arms.
Of course this belief will be different because of your questions. It will be a more mature faith, one based on evidence, but be not afraid of the evidence! Be not afraid of being led to believe! Who cares what other people think! Doubt their doubts! Doubt your doubts! Verify! And having done so, jump! Don’t hold back.
Of course you can and will have intellectual doubts. It’s when people stay there, refusing to understand, that creative doubt becomes pathological and ultimately a form of rebellion against the truth. For if Christianity is true (and I believe that it is) then in the final analysis settled unbelief is simple rebellion against the truth because the God of Christianity is a God who wills to be known. Jesus said, “Everyone on the side of truth listens to me” (John 18:37 NIV). Either that’s true or it isn’t. It’s as simple as that.
A quote from Kierkegaard (father of existentialism) fits here,
“People try to persuade us that the objections against Christianity spring from doubt. That is a complete misunderstanding. The objections against Christianity spring from insubordination, the dislike of obedience, rebellion against all authority. As a result people have hitherto been beating the air in their struggle against objections, because they have fought intellectually with doubt instead of fighting morally with rebellion.”
Looking forward to having some good arguments in the future! Blessings to you on your new adventure, and remember, Be not afraid!