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How to avoid a mid-life faith crisis

November 9th, 2017 | 5 Comments | Posted in Apologetics

woman in crisisRecently I talked with a nice, Christian lady, in her mid-30s, who confided in me that–even though she’s been a Christian her entire life–she started having doubts about her faith. When confronted with intellectual challenges she had never considered before, she began to wonder if her Christian belief had been based on blind faith–without any solid reasons to believe it’s true. She felt like her world was crumbling around her.

This lady is not alone. The other day I came across an apologetics blog written by  another Christian lady, named Alisa Childers, with a similar experience. Read her story. She, too, was in her mid-30s when she encountered questions she didn’t know how to answer and had a crisis of faith.

And last weekend, my husband, who is a pastor, gave a talk about evidence for the resurrection to some of the third- through sixth-grade-aged children at our church. After the talk, a high school student, who had been in the room listening, told my husband, “I wish someone had told me about that evidence when I was their age.”

Why do I share these stories? Because there is a pressing need for Christians to know that there are sound reasons to believe that the claims of Christianity are true. And I also share these stories because I’m passionately concerned that God’s people have a robust theology, sound Bible interpretation, and skills in contending for the Christian faith that “was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3). My critiques of the New Apostolic Reformation are an outworking of my love for those things.

Thankfully, both of the Christian ladies I mentioned began to seek out books and other resources to help them investigate their faith intellectually. That’s great, but they’re not alone in their need for sound apologetics material. These ladies knew they had a need, but how many more don’t? Lifelong churchgoers shouldn’t have to wait until their mid-30s to discover apologetics. It ought to be taught at a church level.

One thing our church does to address this need is to host an annual apologetics conference. Organizations like Biola University’s Apologetics Program partner with churches and help them host “Biola on the Road” events.

Other things churches can do is offer Sunday School classes in apologetics. And small groups of parents can gather to study books that teach them how to answer their kids’ difficult questions, like the two books written by apologist and parenting blogger Natasha Crain.

One great apologetics website that can get you started is Greg Koukl’s Stand to Reason.

But the main point is that to avoid a mid-life crisis of faith for ourselves, our churches, and our kids we must be proactive and start the training now, before the challenge hits. So, what is your church doing?

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Holly Pivec is the co-author of A New Apostolic Reformation?: A Biblical Response to a Worldwide Movement and God’s Super-Apostles: Encountering the Worldwide Prophets and Apostles Movement. She has a master’s degree in Christian apologetics from Biola University.

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5 Responses to “How to avoid a mid-life faith crisis”

  1. BMO Says:

    Something that has really helped me in my faith has been keeping a written track record of the testimonies of God’s kindness and faithfulness in my life.  The apologetics training our church has done is wonderful and definitely helps me give an intellectual and reasoned answer for our faith.  But what speaks the most to my heart in seasons of doubt or struggle is remembering the answered prayers and the help God has provided in the past.  It makes truths like, “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you” come alive when I can see in my own handwriting that God has always been faithful.

  2. John Says:

    It’s interesting to see the way youth ministry often seems to be little more than getting young people into church and then keeping them there with fun and games. Lots of things are “dumbed down” for the benefit of young people, possibly more than they really need to be. Even as children grow into teenagers much of the “youth ministry” still revolves around fun and games, with maybe an underlying theme that’s rooted in ethics or morality rather than anything specifically Christian in its essence. Then we wonder why they grow up without a solid grounding in their faith – not only what they believe but why they believe it. When their faith is challenged – as it surely will be – “My mummy says…” isn’t much of a defense against an intellectual objection. My mummy also said a fat man in a red suit brought gifts in December and a giant bunny delivered chocolate eggs at Easter – if all we have is little more than an appeal to what our parents said we will struggle to explain why we grew out of believing in Santa but not Jesus.

    Sometimes faith is little more than blind faith. Sometimes we have to trust God to lead us along a path we can’t see. But before we get to that point we should have developed enough faith in God to know that he will come through with his promises, and therefore have personal experiences to fall back on. A personal experience might not persuade someone else but they work wonders in maintaining our own faith in something.

  3. gary Says:

    But what is faith???

    When I tell Christians that I believe that it is it is wrong and foolish to believe any truth claim “by faith”, they complain. “You obviously don’t understand the word ‘faith’. We all use faith in many areas of our lives.”

    A typical evangelical Christian’s definition of faith: Faith is trust based on past performance. It is faith in a person, not so much the claims about that person. It is based on personal knowledge of that person gained by personal experience.

    Skeptic: But don’t you believe that faith is a gift from God as the Apostle Paul claims in his Epistle to the Ephesians?

    Christian: Yes. The faith that leads us to personally grasp hold of the promises God made to us in Christ Jesus is something that is given to us.

    Skeptic: So if we combine these two statements we have this: Faith is trust based on personal knowledge about someone (or some thing); a personal knowledge that is given to us as a gift from God.

    Isn’t this statement saying that it is impossible to believe in Jesus as one’s god unless Jesus has gifted you the knowledge (about him) to believe? If that is true, what is the point of Christian apologetics? If only God can flip the switch in the human heart (brain) to believe, why do Christian apologists go to such lengths to debate evidence in an effort to convert skeptical non-believers? And why do Christian apologists accuse skeptics of being biased against “good” evidence, when what they really believe is that no amount of good evidence will ever convince the skeptic to believe in Jesus as his or her Savior? If faith is truly a gift from God, debating evidence is pointless.

    So why do Christian apologists persist in doing it?

    https://lutherwasnotbornagaincom.wordpress.com/2018/01/14/is-christian-apologetics-as-a-means-of-evangelization-an-oxymoron/

  4. Holly Says:

    Gary,

    While it is true that God grants faith for salvation as a free gift, it is also true that He uses people in the process of showing a person their need for salvation. God alone regenerates, but he uses people in the process of helping someone see that they need regeneration. If your line of reasoning is correct, then there would also be no need for people to share the gospel with anyone. But Scripture is clear that people need others to share the gospel with them so they can come to belief (Romans 10:14). We should share the gospel with people and clear any intellectual hurdles to belief in the gospel (i.e, engage in apologetics) because we are commanded to do so in Scripture (1 Peter 3:15) and because it is the example we have from the apostles (see, for example, Paul engaging in apologetics in Acts 17). And Christ, himself, engaged in apologetics! See https://bible.org/article/apologetics-jesus

  5. John Says:

    Gary – I think the issue here is that faith can mean slightly different things depending on the context.

    When I go to the ATM and ask for money, I have faith that the process will work smoothly (i.e. I will get the amount of money I asked for, the correct amount will be deducted from my bank account etc). I have faith that the cash it dispenses will be real money and I won’t find it rejected by stores as fake, and so on. This is faith based on experience – I’ve used the ATM several times and never had issues, the bank is a name I know, and so on.

    When I look at a bridge and decide whether to cross it I’m making a decision whether I can have faith in the bridge. This is based partly on experience (I’ve crossed the bridge before), partly on observation (that huge truck crossed the bridge and it weighs more than I do), and partly on assessment (that bridge looks rickety, I don’t think it will take my weight). For good measure part of the process is determining the outcome if I’m wrong – if it’s a bridge over a stream on a lovely summer day I may decide that falling into the stream is a risk I’m willing to take, but if it’s a bridge over an icy river in the depths of winter I may decide not to chance it.

    There’s also faith in people, that may be based on personal experience (I’ll lend you $1000 because you’ve proven yourself to be reliable at paying me back), based on credible testimony (I’ll let you use my car because someone I trust tells me how careful you are), or credentials (I’ll trust your opinion because you’re an internationally published expert in this field).

    Of course blind faith is based on nothing, it’s the kind of faith that just puts fingers in ears and shouts LA LA LA LA over any possible objections. And sometimes there’s a place for that too, but most of the time it’s unhelpful.

    Where God is concerned, from the perspective of the person wondering whether there is a god or not (small g intentional, as many seekers are wondering if there is “something” out there, whether it be the God of the Bible or some other deity/deities), there is no reason to trust a being that you’re not even sure exists. Hence the first stage has to be to accept that some kind of god may exist. From there comes progression to accepting that some kind of god does exist, and from there determining the nature of the god.

    Once people trust God in the small things they can learn to trust him in the big things. But until someone is willing to consider the possibility that God exists at all it’s a moot point. Hence the use of reasoning and apologetics, to at least encourage someone to consider that possibility.

    Of course sometimes God does something spectacular that leaves someone in no doubt at all and they bypass all of the above, but I suspect for most of us the process is far more mundane.

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