Feb 09 2010

Evaporating faith?

Category: church,religion,theologyharmonicminer @ 9:08 am

A Response to Christians Losing Their Faith

As many of you know, I have written much about the epidemic of people losing their faith. It is not only a concern, but an obsession of mine. Because of this, I engage with quite a few people on the issue. I often feel as if I serve as a last chance stop for many who are in their darkest hour, heading out the door of Christianity.

Thus begins a very thoughtful article with many useful links, which is worth reading completely, and saving, for that dark day when you realize your own faith has waned.

Many people suffer through periods where they question everything they ever believed.  This includes people who have done great things in service to the Kingdom (whether or not they are recognized as such by the world or the church).  Some of the greatest saints of history have had to endure this, and some have been in this state for years, or decades.

I think one of the most difficult aspects of this may be that it is difficult to be open with other Christians about it.   It’s easier to hide and pretend than to put up with the people who try to argue you out of it, or don’t take it seriously, or just tell you to pray about it.

Nevertheless, I think it’s crucial for Christians in this position to find someone with whom they can share the entire thing.  The person with whom they share needs to be someone they respect and trust, someone who has a decent background in scripture and apologetics, though professional training isn’t required.

I think the very worst aspect of this for the suffering Christian may be the crushing sense of being alone, of being unable to share it with someone.

I think that means that we should probably be talking a bit more about the fact that this DOES happen, and is not evidence that the sufferer is a bad person, a failed Christian, or whatever. 

We should bear one another’s burdens.  And we should not create a church-culture where expressing doubts, even very deep ones, is not acceptable.

3 Responses to “Evaporating faith?”

  1. Katherine says:

    I heard a great sermon on this topic recently. The pastor made a very interesting point that I’d never heard before: that what we need is not large amounts of faith, but just the hope of “What if?” and the willingness to act on that. He gave three examples from the “heroes of faith” in the OT:

    David: After Bathsheba gave birth and the child was dying, David fasted and wept for days. When the child died anyway, he washed his face and went back to life as normal. His servants asked him why he fasted and wept BEFORE the child died, but not after, and this was his reply: “Because I thought, ‘Who knows? Maybe the Lord will be gracious to me and let the child live.'” David’s act of faith was based on a mere “who knows?”.

    Esther: The incredible courage that it took for her to approach the king to plead for her people was based on Mordecai’s statement: “Who knows? It may be that you were chosen to become queen for such a time as this.” Just a mere “who knows” was enough for her to act out in faith.

    Abraham, the ultimate example of heroic faith, in sacrificing Isaac: His reasoning was that if God wanted, God could raise Isaac from the dead (even though God had not specifically promised to do so). His grand leap of faith was based on a conjecture… the faith of “who knows…maybe”.

    Jesus states this point pretty clearly when he says that just a mustard seed of faith is enough to move mountains. What God wants from us is not absolute certainty, it is just a teeny bit of hope, and enough faith to act on that.

  2. Tom says:

    When I get impatient or when I have false expectations, is when I tend to wrestle with doubt. When I start feeling that God owes me something because I have suffered for Him, is when I wrestle with doubt. I hate that after all these years with Him that, at times, I wrestle with doubt. The beauty of it is, He knows I wrestle with doubt and when I turn back to my Father, He gives me reassurance.

    I believe Christianity is an active endeavor. One must strive to understad what the Father has promised us. We must pray and study His word.

    Did those that “walk away” really have “the faith” in the first place?

  3. K dippre says:

    I feel this is a very relevant and topical issue right now, but it does vary greatly from church to church and respective locales. All too often churches lose sight of the very real human needs in their congregations. They obsess and bicker over the governance of the church itself or its various activities and programs, but often fail to notice people quietly leaving and never returning. This isn’t necessarily losing ones faith, but it is demoralizing and makes it difficult to feel connected. There is the old, but true, platitude, “Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven.” This applies to many churches as well. Our faith will always be challenged in some way, and God will reveal some imperfection in ourselves–painful yet necessary….

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