Last month, two of the biggest earthquakes in decades rocked Central and Southern California. I was with my brother and his family during both earthquakes. They were sort of fun… and long. They lasted at least a minute. Had the epicenter been in a major city the damage would probably have been extensive. Sometimes seismic events like those are followed by shaking in other realms.
As a former homeschooling Dad, I’ve followed with interest the public collapse of Josh Harris’ 5-point Calvinist “faith”… although, to be consistent, in Josh’s case, God elected his faith to collapse (Calvinist humor). Then, after Josh’s announcement, Marty Sampson, the Hillsong worship leader and song writer, tweeted that he had lost his faith too.
I suspect we’ll be seeing a lot more of this sort of thing, high profile people abandoning their faith, and I think it’s important that we see these things correctly and respond accordingly.
If the faith of these men… their “set of beliefs” or their “Christianity” aren’t working for them and hasn’t provided answers to tough questions, I applaud their courage and honesty. There’s actually an opportunity to lead beneath the surface of their crisis. I think what these things tend to expose is that our congregations and pulpits are full of religious people who are threatened because, most likely, they haven’t yet had their own crisis of faith… their own “dark night of the soul”. They would prefer men like these to just choke it down and carry on towing the “party line”… that these crises of faith will pass and, if not, they should be dealt with quietly, “In-house”.
Expressing uncertainty and asking tough questions publicly makes a lot of people nervous, afraid and insecure because the people being asked either have no answers themselves or they haven’t thought deeply about tough issues. I think people feel pretty comfortable in their ignorance and folks who ask hard questions or who are struggling with their faith make people nervous.
Yeshua didn’t come to start a religion called “Christianity” and He isn’t exactly a “Christian” either. Nevertheless, a religion did spring up over the centuries and we have a lot of problems within “Christendom”… the religion of Christianity. Besides the variations within Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy, there are over 40,000 protestant denominations, all differing slightly on some point of theology or practice. I think we have over-emphasized doctrine and elevated it beyond it’s place and, in doing so, we have painted ourselves into a corner by placing too much pressure on what your set of beliefs are.
Do you know why 11 of 12 apostles and hundreds or thousands of followers of Yeshua were martyred before the end of the 1st century?
Because they knew “Whom” they had believed. They knew Him. The most important thing was the who question not the what. Clearly some of what they believed changed over time.
My first question to men who lose their faith is have you every actually met Him? Do you know Yeshua or have you just swallowed someone else’s explanation of how salvation works and you like the music and how you feel after attending a congregation?
IMO, Greg Boyd is one of the best teaching pastors in the US. He has undergone his own dark nights of the soul and has taken his congregation along with him through the tough questions that derail many, many people.
It’s important that we provide space for people to wrestle with tough questions. But it’s more important that we help people encounter the risen Lord… that they might know Him… the mystery hidden from the ages, Yeshua in them… the one in whom, they live and move and have their being.