When fires of faith wane

Published 5:54 pm Tuesday, January 8, 2019

It is reported that American Social Reformer Frederick Douglas was giving a speech in upstate New York. In the audience was Harriet Tubman, the Captain of the Underground Railroad. During the speech, as Douglas’ zeal appeared to be flagging, Tubman stood up and shouted, “Frederick, Frederick, is God dead?”

Whenever I sense the fires of faith burning low, I think of that desperate call to arms. And I do sense the fires of faith waning in our time — people are desperate for meaning, dropping out of church, becoming increasingly secularistic and more despairing.

I read an article in The Christian Century where  two professors, one of the University College of London and the other of Duke University, maintain that U.S. religious devotion may be higher than in other Western countries but it too is slowly declining and is essentially no different from other developed nations in its growing secularization. So why are the fires of faith waning in our time? The following are a few of the possible causes.

First, our disconnection from the scriptures. To be sure, we have access to Bibles, but numbers have lost touch with the stories within them.

A second cause of our loss of faith is wars, disasters and the resulting suffering. When difficulties come, we expectedly look for some glimmer of light some whispering voice, but in listening we hear nothing but the deafening silence.

Third, a world of accelerating knowledge has caused people to lose faith. In a world filled with so much information and multiplying all the time, people simply do not know what to believe or who is responsible.

Fourth, the skepticism of others has been a factor in this loss of faith. If we live under the steady barrage of secularism, atheism, agnosticism and skepticism with no corresponding emphasis on the transcendent, chances are we will not be great people of faith.

Paul said to Timothy, “Fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you.” This gift is the spirit or contagion of our Christian witness. It is a flame or an inner fire. It is a fire which may be allowed to burn low or even go out or it is a fire that may be kept a living flame.

Resolve to trust God’s hold on you. Have you ever asked yourself how in the world the church has survived to this hour? How in the name of all that is wonderful has it not been smashed by the Herod’s, Caesar’s, Hitler’s and powers? Why the burning bush has not been consumed?

It is because in the midst of the church there has stood and still stands the risen, reigning Lord.