Doubt has a great deal of cultural cachet these days. People who have serious doubts about their faith are considered normal, healthy, and most of all, intellectually honest. A writer who expresses his or her doubt eloquently is considered a sage.
Self-assured, confident, and bold faith has been the hallmark of evangelicals, so much so that it sometimes gets out of hand (as in the word faith movement). But it appears that doubt is becoming an increasingly common experience for evangelicals: Note John Ortberg's Faith and Doubt, David Dark's The Sacredness of Questioning Everything, and Alister E. McGrath's Doubting: Growing Through the Uncertainties of Faith—among other offerings. Such books would not see the light of day if evangelical publishers didn't suspect that their readers weren't looking for wisdom on this matter.
Overall, this is a healthy development. To pretend that faith in Christ does not entail some rough patches is sheer hypocrisy. Some of the greatest heroes of Scripture doubted God's goodness—Abraham, Job, and Habakkuk quickly come to mind. If them, why not us?
In such a time, we are wise to note that there are also many of us who live a doubt-free faith. Doubt has never been much of a player in our lives. I had one period in seminary when I was deathly afraid that God might not exist, but the period was short lived. Before and after that, I can candidly say that I've had no doubts about my faith. I've talked to a couple of trusted friends this week—one pastor, one nationally known writer on spirituality—and their experience is the same. I suspect we're not the last three people on the planet with such faith.
So in an era when doubt is on the ascendency, what are we to make of those ...