Faith is in crisis! Now that I have your attention, it seems that in Western Europe (Britain and France especially) Christian faith is on the decline. Is this an objective statement? According to polls and official censuses the answer may be yes. Fewer people state a belief in God (according to YouGov “33% of British adults do not believe in God or a greater spiritual power of any kind”). The 2011 census had only 59% of the British population as Christian.
Many of my students express an atheistic world view. But do these views, especially those expressed in a public forum, stack up? While outward confidence in God is seen to be a minority view, especially among the young, does this mean it is actually in numerical decline? Is it an issue of being timid in the face of potential ridicule rather than a lack belief or at least hope in God.
Fair enough the scriptures, and the traditions of the champions of the faith, and the martyrs of old would hold such a “silent belief” to be a betrayal. This is not to justify the timid by the way. I have written several times about the current obsession with worldly fame, and the desire for public acceptance. In a world of “image,” people shy from anything that might make them “the other.”
I don’t know the answer to my previous questions by the way. Is it a real decline in the number who believe? Is it just a decline in the strength of faith and dedication? Whatever the case there seems to be an imperative for those of faith to make a stand. If numbers are falling, are we stepping into the breech and actively “recruiting.” Are we making the witness we should? If it is that faith is meek, are we being bold examples?
If it seems that the being “faithless” is normative, are we missing the chance to say, “wait a minute – your faith isn’t alone.” In I Kings, Elijah believed he was alone in his worship of God. God corrected him! For those with doubts today, do we leave them with the same feeling? Is our testimony also too quiet, as to make others feel “alone?”
For those with faith, let’s make it bold. For those with leadership, let us give example! Psalm 89: 1- 2 is a wonderful approach. “I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations. I will declare that your love stands firm forever, that you have established your faithfulness in heaven itself.” Think about it, if we all did, all the time, might the sense of decline be shown to be false. If we have a voice of testimony, would anyone be able to hide behind the facade of their own silence?