I'd like to ask for some advice. Right now I'm struggling with my faith. I've always asked questions and really had a desire to seek the truth. In doing so I want to be as unbiased as possible, so I like to hear both sides of the story. Unfortunately, my curiosity has lead me to some faith-shaking findings. I know the IBTM Research Team has much more expertise in the knowledge field than I do, so I wanted to ask for some ways that you personally reconcile your faith knowing some of the things you know. I have found the words of Solomon to be true: in much wisdom there is much grief, and increasing knowledge results in increasing pain. I don't want to follow blindly and live in ignorance; to be honest, I think I thought I was invincible when I set out on my quest for knowledge, but I now find that it has only produced more questions. I definitely realize now how much faith plays a role in my walk as a Christian.
I also have a question about my latest dilemma: Satan. I have been told that there really is no concept of Satan in the Hebrew Bible as we understand him as Christians, that many interpretations we have now came much later and were influenced by the theology of their day. That the Hebrew word "ha'satan" simply means "opposer" or "accuser." That the closest character to him is the "accuser" in Job who is a part of God's heavenly court and functions more as a prosecutor, bringing cases of men's sin before God, as opposed to being the embodiment of evil (which may be consistent with some New Testament theology). I also heard that most Jews didn't have a concept of dualism until around 200 BC. What is your take?
Your second question first: Satan, life after death, the Holy Spirit, the Son--none of these very important parts of our faith were fully revealed in the OT; they were more embryonic. Revelation has always been progressive, and Jesus did much to further reveal and clarify God, his purpose, and plans, as we would have expected the Incarnation to do. Satan was known by OT Jews, but we understand more thanks to Jesus. For example, the NT reveals that Satan is the father of lies, is working toward our destruction, and will be punished eternally, so it seems unlikely he is a member of God's court. (I sure wouldn't read Job this way.) There is much more to be revealed about our accuser. And yes, some mythology has probably worked its way into our popular conception of Satan to fill in the gaps, but on this see below.
As to your first question: I want to commend you for the effort you are making in being a well-informed disciple. A childlike faith is commendable, but a childish faith is not. I am also glad you are being open and seeking help as you run into stumbling blocks instead of giving up on your faith as some do. I find your question quite timely. I myself have been struggling with the same kind of question and one thing that has given me comfort is the knowledge of how many brilliant minds over the last 2000 years have found Christianity intellectually reasonable. It simply is not true that Christianity is only a religion of the uneducated.
Orthodox Protestant theology is not perfect, but it isn't bad. However, few Christians really know what we believe. Of course they get many of the broad brush strokes -- there is a God, Jesus is his son, we are separated from God and need redemption -- but much of the nuts-and-bolts of our theology, what our doctrines about these and other important points of the faith really are, has not been taught to them. For the most part it is thought not to matter. There are many problems with this philosophy, but the one I have found most damaging is that when one has holes in his doctrine, often he feels the need to fill in those holes with incorrect and poorly thought-out doctrine.
Let me give you a personal example you might find pertinent. I am currently working on a curriculum to teach the doctrines about the Bible such as revelation, inspiration, and inerrancy. Now we all know what Paul and Peter said about the inspiration of Scripture, but they weren't very specific about what it meant to be "carried along by the Holy Spirit" or for Scripture to be "breathed out" by God. During the word study, I used to teach that God dictated the Bible word for word and the human authors were simply stenographers. But, this is not the Protestant or Catholic doctrine of inspiration; it is the Mormon and Islamic doctrine. Here is why it matters: our doctrines about the Bible are the lens through which we read the Bible. They shape the expectations we bring to the Bible. By inventing my own doctrine of inspiration instead of educating myself on what the doctrine really was, I was building my whole theology on a bad foundation. When the reality of the Bible did not meet my expectations, that foundation crumbled and led to a serious crisis of faith. I find that many of the faith-struggles I have had are due to unreasonable expectations I hold about the Bible because I was improperly trained or not trained at all and simply assumed I knew what the doctrines were. It can be very disheartening to learn your lens may be blemished, but the great news is that there is a better lens out there. It will just take some work to rewrite your ingrained and well-worn scripts. You can be an intellectually honest Christian. It is true that the righteous will live by faith, but faith was never meant to be uninformed. Faith is opposed to sight, not to knowledge. Or to put it another way: faith is blind, not ignorant.
One other thought that may or may not apply; I find that doubt is often not an intellectual problem -- the Christian faith is coherent -- it is an emotional one. When I doubt, it can be a way for my anger at God to come out sideways. It is a scary thing to openly admit anger at the Almighty, so when I do get angry, perhaps because of my unmet expectations of the Bible, I naturally suppress and deny those feelings. But feelings are always buried alive, and they find a way of sneaking to the surface. For me, it can be through doubt. The best way I have found to overcome this doubt is to identify and be honest with God about the anger I am feeling, to work through it with him. He is a big God; I am betting he can take it. I am also betting that he values me being honest with him about what I am feeling more than he does me pretending I don't have those feelings. I hope this helps.
--IBTM Research Team