The Precipitation of my Crisis of Faith was not questioning Scripture

John Calvin
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It was questioning people.

Yesterday, I posted a response and a link to an article about embracing one’s crisis of faith. On a few comments left at Dr. McGrath’s site, there seems to have developed an issue that crises of faith develop when people question Scripture, either portions of it or the whole thing. But as for me, it wasn’t about questioning Scripture, but about the depravity of my doctrinal system and its teachers.

Admittedly, I was in the theological moving van before I left. I had a few more boxes to load up, but eventually, the divorce would have happened. (I’ve written about this on this site several places). I was no longer KJV-Only, and hadn’t been for a few years, and believed that Science could help inform Scripture. I hadn’t yet really entered biblical studies, or even deep theological studies, but I was getting there. Pick up the Orthodox Study Bible and see if you can maintain of your believes about the evils of the early Christian writers…

Anyway, what has precipitated my crisis of faith was not the doubt which I enjoyed – the doubt of my interpretation and my understanding of Scripture and Christian History and thus my sect’s doctrine – but the people who were in the sect. For 31 or so years, I grew up in a sect which was supremely destructive to the lives of its members, and even those who didn’t belong. Once my eyes were opened to just how destructive it was – having your eyes opened by watching your pastor allow two of his grandchildren, and others, get molested and then claiming that prayer washes everything away is not the best way to have it happen, trust me – it was difficult to want to move on. In truth, what has kept me faithful during this times is biblical studies. Why? Maybe it’s because I can still see the hand of God throughout redaction, and violence, and upheaval, and myth and the like – wherein God uses the frailty of humanity for His goal, even if that frailty is hideous. I guess the opposite is true – by questioning Scripture, I was actually able to grow in my faith.

I guess I have to agree with Taylor George,

In retrospect, I call it a lack of love for fellow humans that finalized my divorce from the far right of evangelicalism. I began to realize that this segment of Christendom could easily confess to a shrewd set of theological truth while at the same time hating people and, for that matter, God.

(I don’t necessarily agree with his characterization of Calvinism, however).

It doesn’t have to be questioning of Scripture which permits a crisis of faith – sometimes, it has to be the burden that we incur by watching people:

And Moses said to the LORD, “Why are you treating me, your servant, so harshly? Have mercy on me! What did I do to deserve the burden of all these people? Did I give birth to them? Did I bring them into the world? Why did you tell me to carry them in my arms like a mother carries a nursing baby? How can I carry them to the land you swore to give their ancestors? Where am I supposed to get meat for all these people? They keep whining to me, saying, ‘Give us meat to eat!’ I can’t carry all these people by myself! The load is far too heavy! If this is how you intend to treat me, just go ahead and kill me. Do me a favor and spare me this misery!” (Num 11:11-15 NLT)

If I wanted to boast, I would be no fool in doing so, because I would be telling the truth. But I won’t do it, because I don’t want anyone to give me credit beyond what they can see in my life or hear in my message, even though I have received such wonderful revelations from God. So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud. Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. (2Co 12:6-9 NLT)

I’m a changed person, I know that. I no longer want much to do with people or God, for that matter. Not only did I watch for 30 years while destruction happened, but I even participated in it. But, it has helped me understand the anger and bitterness people feel towards religion. So, no, it is always about questioning Scripture or the such, but in many cases, having your eyes opened to the destruction caused by people who use Scripture.

I hope that in beating a dead horse, others will find the faith to go on, even if their former faith was a complete waste.

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8 Replies to “The Precipitation of my Crisis of Faith was not questioning Scripture”

  1. I like what you said in regards to being comfortable in your doubts. While I haven’t come from the destructiveness you have experienced; I also have experienced a crisis of faith…and its not a nice experience…

    I have come to also be comfortable with my doubts… though comfort and enjoyment are two different things… and trust God despite them.

    1. I trust God because in my doubts, I’ve had to actually trust God.

      No, these things aren’t fun, and to be honest, I’m not sure when I’ll get passed mine – if ever, really.

  2. What I have learnt is that much of my faith was in my faith… and so I often doubt myself… God has been slowly drawing me back to himself; stripping away my identity… replacing it with his.

  3. Thank you, Joel. Too many people are afraid to say those words in the positive, “question scripture.” This bothered me from my childhood on. Now, I question scripture and I question God. I don’t argue God’s existance, nor do I argue the validity of scripture. I question my understanding of scripture and my understanding of God’s will.

    I don’t know about everyone else, but my Bible is too complex for me to understand without deep meaningful and sometimes difficult study.

  4. Read a Time magazine story about Mother Teresa’s crisis of faith – the struggles she had with God most of her life. Those struggles, including the years of emptiness she felt after a revelation, deepened her faith.

    Like Mother Teresa, your faith is strengthening.

  5. I read a while ago someone who said that as they got older they believed fewer things, but things they believed, they believed more strongly. I think I can identify with that – it isn’t that I stop believing stuff, but I work out what is central, and what is peripheral. What is the irreducible minimum of Christian faith? God in Jesus. Do I understand that? Do I heck. But deep down, it rings a lot of bells. So I keep walking the walk as far as I can, and somehow it seems to work.

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