Today's OC Register had a front page article on former LA Times religion journalist William Lobdell's new book in which he chronicles his journey into the Christian faith and his more recent total loss of faith (linked here http://www.ocregister.com/articles/lobdell-religion-church-2316379-losing-times)
He is the married father of four boys who first came to embrace a born again faith in his late twenties after visiting Mariners Church and then going on a mountain retreat. Over the ensuing years, he and his wife identified with St. Andrews Presbyterian Church before finally embracing his wife's childhood Roman Catholic faith. The "unraveling" of his Christian commitment began in 2001 while reporting on the about-to-blow-wide-open scandal of child abuse by Roman Catholic priests. The article claims this was further helped along by Lobdell's closer look at televangelists like Benny Hinn (now THERE'S a shock!).
Haven't read the book and probably won't, but I have been "up close and personal" with folks who have either deeply doubted their faith or lost it altogether before, so I feel I know Lobdell's story by instinct if not by detail. I observe that such people do not respond well to the typical "proofs of God's existence" or other apologetics. Often, the faith crisis is precipitated by an emotional or interpersonal set of experiences that leave the person reeling and confused. For some, their crisis resolves as a deeper, more mature new faith commitment. For others, it ends with the person becoming a "reluctant athiest" (Lobdell's own words) for good.
Reading the story in today's paper brought a few particular people to my mind -- people I really care for -- who have, nevertheless, lost their faith and dissociated themselves from their earlier Christian identity and convictions. This is always hard to watch because I believe so deeply in Jesus Christ and have made it my life-long effort to follow Him and to go where that belief leads me. Therefore, I ache when I see others become offended, discouraged, distraught and emptied of their faith after making strong public confessions as believers -- especially when I have engaged in my own struggles to reconcile my inconsistencies as well as the inconsistincies (and even frauds!) of others who claim Christ as Lord.
In light of this, I sent the following email response to the Editor:
"After living a lifetime as a born again Christian, I observe the following: The best people I know, those I admire most and wish to be most like are Christians. And, the people I feel most disappointed in, the ones who frustrate me most deeply and who nearly break my heart are also Christians. Thus has it always been, thus will it always be."
More about faith, doubt and total loss on my next post.