The Diminishing of Faith

One of the things that has been apparent to me is how our culture has shunned faith. Faith, once a trait of those strong in character is now seen by many as a weakness.  The concept of believing in something or someone we cannot fully know is foolish to many especially in a culture where we believe we have certain knowledge about so much else.  This issue isn’t just in the culture, but I believe exists in the church as well.

The church often desires knowledge of things, and seeks to solidify faith into knowledge.  This in and of itself is not bad, unless we come to see faith as ‘lesser than’ knowledge.    One could even argue that in the church faith has been traded by some for routine.  Saying we have faith in God means we hold to a routine of going to church, though depending on the individual, whether that changes a person’s life depends.  Faith should be transformative and life changing. 

Despite this diminishing of faith in our culture, the truth is our culture is as rooted in faith as it ever has been, it’s just a faith of a different nature.  Whether it be science, political views, or even our whole world view they are each rooted in faith in ‘something’.  An atheist is as much a person of faith as the person who goes door to door sharing the love of Jesus.  It takes just as much faith to believe with absolute certainty that there is no God as it does to believe there is one.  The agnostic stuck in the middle between these two views also has faith that not knowing about God is inconsequential and is not in need of being resolved.    

Faith leeches into other areas of our life.  A political view has faith in humanity that they can carry out that political stance to the best possible way forward.  Science itself, the objective truth seekers as seen by our culture, is rooted in specific world views that alters how individuals perceive what they are encountering.  They are no more objective than the person next door who is superstitious.  Science ultimately is rooted in faith in something, often faith in our ability to know things.   Science can have faith it can solve our problems.  It can have faith that with enough work it can understand everything.  Science usually has faith that it’s current understanding is THE understanding – ironically this has proven to be false historically when looking at the history of science (remember those who had faith the earth was flat or that the earth was the centre of the universe?). Ultimately science has the faith that what it learns always means progress.  

Does that mean science is irrelevant? Not at all, it just means we need to recognize a chorus of voices are present within science that hold different understandings of what they are observing. Add to this a variety of religious backgrounds and worldviews, a variety of moral and ethical frameworks and we see faith oozing out of the pores of science.    Some of us would argue that breadth of voices strengthens science, rather than weakens it allowing science to refine its own perspectives.  Ultimately we need to recognize that the objective knowledge is ultimately rooted in faith in something.  Perhaps I’ll write more on this in another blog post, but for now we’ll return to the initial train of thought.

So, the diminishing of faith is not an elimination of faith, rather it is an altering of what we place our faith in.  Faith abounds in our culture – we just can’t proclaim it as openly.   Our faith should be private and not obvious to others.   There is no lack of faith in our world, it’s just claiming to root ourselves in faith is seen as a weakness, if not a backwards concept.    The church can be quick to grab onto this notion of faith diminishing in our culture ith the thought that the culprit in the downfall of faith is a secular culture.  Yes, the culture around the church has played a significant part in changing the worldview of many away from faith. Yet, it has always been easier for the church to point fingers at others.  Scripture speaks to us of the importance and value of faith, hope, and love.   You’ll notice ‘knowledge’ isn’t on that list.  But faith is more than a cognitive assent to an idea.  Faith is living out what we believe.  Faith is letting our lives be changed.  Faith is shown through transformation of our lives.   We don’t want to yield our lives to that which we are not 100% sure of.  We don’t want to yield to faith when we have knowledge.  We don’t want to call something faith either when we can say we know it. 

As a church we have allowed our culture to diminish the value of faith, and I believe to some extent have reflected that diminished view of faith within the church. We need to recognize the value of Faith, Hope and Love as scripture calls us too (1 Cor 13). In fact it says ‘faith, hope and love’ are the three things that remain. Faith is always present. We don’t always acknowledge our faith, we don’t always proclaim our faith, but our faith is there. Our culture wants to diminish the value and importance of faith, yet scripture tells us it is foundational. As the church – the body of believers -we need to ensure we are rooted in our faith, not our knowledge, but our faith. When we root ourselves in what we know with certainty it is amazing how often the outcome is not a relationship with God but instead is idolatry. Our God is great, our God is beyond understanding – to know God takes faith. Faith is what we shall have. We need to seek to nurture our faith and build it up.   So over the coming weeks I want to share five ways I believe faith has been diminished in our culture, and perhaps how we can reclaim and rebuild our faith.  

These five things are:

The Loss of Imagination
The Failure of Hope
The Disappearance of Hospitality
The Avoidance of Collegiality
The Withering of Growth

I’d love to write more on this topic of the role of faith in our culture, but my goal is to just introduce the topic and explore it more in the coming weeks. So for now this will have to suffice. I look forward to exploring these themes with you over the coming weeks. I’d also love to hear your thoughts on how you feel our culture, and the church, views faith today. Leave a comment below!

 Peace and grace,

 Mike

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