In C.S. Lewis’ classic Mere Christianity, one must only read a couple of pages into the chapter on “Faith” before encountering a refreshingly frank discussion on doubt:
Now Faith, in the sense in which I am here using the word, is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods. For moods will change, whatever view your reason takes.
I know that by experience.
Now that I am a Christian I do have moods in which the whole thing looks very improbable: but when I was an atheist I had moods in which Christianity looked terribly probable.
The rebellion of your moods against your real self is going to come….
This has always seemed to me to be an extremely reasonable approach to faith and doubt.
But there are plenty of Christians who feel that all doubt must be extinguished. That doubt is an obstacle to receiving blessings from God.
Perhaps the Scriptural “Ground Zero” for this belief is James 1:6-7:
But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.
Those who doubt should not think that they will receive anything from the Lord; they are double-minded and unstable in all they do.
Last July, a favorite pastor of mine, Greg Boyd, addressed this Scripture; and he explained (to my satisfaction, at least) why it is often misunderstood as a warning against doubt.
Hint: context matters.