When I was preparing to enter seminary I took a- "Survey of the Bible" kind of class at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio. The professor of the class was Father Charles Miller, S.M. and he warned us that in the course of the course we might have a, “crisis of faith”. Having been through several, I was prepared- and I survived.
I think everyone goes through some crisis of faith some time in their lifetime; it may be religious in nature or non-religious. A crisis of faith occurs for any number of reasons and the outcome is usually one of two responses: one is that we “lose” faith- in God, in the government, in the “system", or "something"; or two: we grow in faith- grow closer to God or the system actually works. Religious and non-religious crises of faith are similar but I’m going to think about religious crisis of faith.
“[Some seeds] fell on the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil. But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. Others fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out…”
Religious people seem to have an understanding of the world, of things; and when there’s an interruption our faith gets shaken. For example, we have an understanding of the Bible which may be the foundation of our faith and something shakes it- science challenges it or maybe an atheist correctly criticizes it, or maybe we start asking questions of our assumptions. A crisis of faith might occur because of a traumatic event is in our lives: death of a parent, spouse, child, friend- and it gets complicated when we’ve prayed and prayed for that person. Sometimes that traumatic event is in our lives- an illness, a divorce. It could be that the answers which have nurtured and nourished us for so many years just ring hollow to a new set of questions…and we enter the crisis.
Father Miller warned us that we could have a crisis of faith if we carefully examine what the text of the Bible really says and we start to answer questions; and some people begin this journey as believers but the crisis overwhelms them and they lose their faith. The first crisis of faith I can find is Adam and Eve. Living in paradise, all their needs met, walking with God in the breeze of the evening- they’re kind of set up to fail and they do. They’re thrown out of the garden but God promises to be with them.
The assumption I think we make is that, if we’re good and decent people, if we’re righteous then life will be fair. But life isn’t fair; life is life. People die and people divorce, people lose their lives and people get cancer- it isn’t fair, which is the same thing Adam and Eve could have said: “Why did you have to put that tree in the garden? Why did you allow the snake to appear? Why, why, why?” I don't know what the answer is.
Another crisis of faith in the Bible was at the crucifixion of Jesus where Jesus asks, “My God, why have you forsaken me?” Why? But Jesus final words were, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”- acknowledging that God was with him in his worst moments just as God was with Adam and Eve.
I hope life has spared you of these crises. For those who might be in a crisis I hope and pray that you might feel the presence of God. For those beat up and burned out, I’m sorry.