It’s a familiar story, Margaret Wheeler Johnson’s account of losing her faith. As Johnson tells it, the personal integrity that religion instilled in her “made it impossible to maintain faith” in religion.
A while back, Columbia University Professor Mark Lilla made a similar disclosure: Namely, the truth that led him to faith was the very thing that led him “out of faith.”
In Johnson’s case, the turn was sparked by doubts concerning her denomination’s teaching about the sacrament of communion; in Lilla’s, it had to do with the interpretation of a particular Bible passage that he found disagreeable. The scriptural text in question, and its reading, Lilla does not disclose.
Margaret Johnson and Mark Lilla are in the growing company of individuals who have left Christianity not because of core doctrines -- like the Nicene Creed -- but because of a sectarian peculiarity, a scriptural interpretation, or what they deem hypocritical practices. They are folks who wouldn’t think of abandoning their pet political party over an unpleasant plank of the platform, a questionable constitutional stance, or corruption in the ranks.
And yet, what they don’t realize (or admit), is that they don’t lose their faith, they merely shift it from one object to another. Otherwise, they would quickly learn that life itself would be impossible. For faith is the bridge between what is known and what remains unknown; and that, it so happens, is a gap of cosmic proportions. Continue reading here.