Peter Enns has written an essay on “The Benefit of Doubt” which is, I think, necessary for many to ponder:

“There is a benefit of doubt. Let me put that more strongly: there are things doubt can do spiritually that nothing else can do. Doubt is not the enemy, but a gift of God to move us from trusting ourselves to trusting him. Doubt feels like God is far away or absent, but it is actually a time of “disguised closeness” to God that moves us to spiritual maturity. Doubt is not a sign of weakness but a sign of growth…

Spiritual masters of the Christian church caught on to this long ago. It is not a part of the contemporary Protestant scene as much, which is a shame. We tend to intellectualize the faith—we live in our heads. Our faith tends to rest in what we know, what we can articulate, what we can defend, how we think—our intellects. We tend to place “thinking” over “being” rather than the other way around.  That is why doubt for people like us is the great enemy. We spend a lot of effort in removing doubt. Our world is flooded with books and apologetics organizations whose job it is to give the answers quickly and easily—no struggle, no doubt—all this Jesus stuff, piece of cake. That attitude robs us of a spiritual experience that you can’t avoid anyway and that wiser Christians, since almost the beginning of Christianity, have told us is vital for the Christian life.”

And on a different (yet not contradictory) note, here is a challenging prophetic critique from A. W. Tozer of our spiritual shallowness in the contemporary church.  And this present lack in the church is not completely unrelated, perhaps, to some other forms of spiritually unhealthy doubt which go unmentioned by Enns–and which might serve as a helpful balancing act to his admittedly one-sided take on the virtues of Christian doubt:

“To most people God is an inference, not a reality.  He is a deduction from evidence which they consider adequate, but He remains personally unknown to the individual.  ‘He must be,’ they say, ‘therefore we believe He is.’  Others do not go even so far as this; they know of Him only by hearsay.  They have never bothered to think the matter out for themselves, but have heard about Him from others, and have put belief in Him into the back of their minds along with various odds and ends that make up their total creed.  To many others, God is but an ideal, another name for goodness or beauty or truth; or He is a law or life or the creative impulse back of the phenomena of existence.  These notions about God are many and varied, but they who hold them have one thing in common: they do not know God in personal experience…Christians, to be sure, go further than this, at least in theory…This is admitted, I say, in theory, but for millions of Christians, nevertheless, God is no more real than He is to the non-Christian.  They go through life trying to love an ideal and be loyal to a mere principle.  Over against all this cloudy vagueness stands the clear scriptural doctrine that God can be known in personal experience.  Always a living Person is present, speaking, pleading, loving, working and manifesting Himself whenever and wherever His people have the receptivity necessary to receive the manifestation.  The Bible assumes as a self-evident fact that men can know God with at least the same degree of immediacy as they know any other person or thing that comes within the field of their experience…And more important than any proof text is the fact that the whole import of Scripture is toward this belief.” (A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God, pp. 63-66)