BreakPoint Blog

Banner
Banner
Losing Faith?


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.


Comments:

I think you're right in some cases, Mo. But think about well-meaning people who have been understandably disillusioned.

One could easily understand something like the following: "I have always gone to church, always tried to do the right things, always given to charity, said my prayers, read my Bible, even led others to Christianity. And yet, I had to watch my child die. I prayed to God constantly, pleading with him not to take my little boy, not to put him--and me--through this. Still, my innocent little boy suffered horribly and died. In what way does this make sense? How could a loving 'God' do something so heartless, when I don't even know a human being who would be so cruel? Either God doesn't exist, or if he does, he's not the kind I can love or worship."

Now, we can bombard this person with all the doctrine in the world, and it's likely going to ring hollow and fall well short of providing comfort or understanding. And it would be easy to say that this person didn't have enough faith to begin with, but we can't really know or judge such a thing.

And to the point of this thread, I don't think we can say that the many people who have walked away under similar circumstances did so because they didn't like or agree with something in the Bible. They left because they were dealt a crushing blow that, let's be honest, none of us can fully and satisfactorily explain.

If we are ever to help these people return to the fold, judgmental condescension is probably not the most winning approach we can take.
Mo, you have no way to know it was because of some moral teaching to which they would not submit to and in any case, you like everyone else have some moral teaching that you do not submit to.

And no it is not "nonsense"; it is someone struggling to find the truth.
Normally, I would read through both pieces. But there's no way to comment on either, which will just leave me with my responses burning in my head and no way to express them to the authors.

These types of stories are becoming more popular. It's dangerous, because on the surface it makes it seem as though people have left Christianity due to some genuine fault in Christianity or for some "intellectual" reason.

That's nonsense. People leave Christianity because they were never born again to begin with. Somewhere along the line, I bet there was some moral teaching in the Bible to which they simply could not - would not - submit.