The State of Faith
A Study on Holiness
Like The World
Say this to the entire community of Israel: You must be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy.
John the Apostle writes of the outpouring of God's wrath upon the earth in the last days.
Revelation 16:8-11 (NKJV)
8 Then the fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and power was given to him to scorch men with fire. 9 And men were scorched with great heat, and they blasphemed the name of God who has power over these plagues; and they did not repent and give Him glory. 10 Then the fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom became full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues because of the pain. 11 They blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and did not repent of their deeds.
If men do not repent under these terrible future conditions, why should we expect them to repent and turn to God under "less trying" times?
What is of more concern, however, is that Barna's findings generally reflect the church of Jesus Christ sits in the same position as the rest of the world. Church attendance did not drastically change. Bible reading, Sunday School attendance, salvations did not greatly increase. Under Barna's definition the percentage of unchurched adults remains the same both before September 11, 2001 and now, September 2002 (33%). Even more distressing is that only 14% of adults base moral and ethical choices on the truth of the Bible! This percentage has remained constant for the time frame we have been exploring.
How can events such as the various tragedies, and other more personal tragedies, accidents, and illnesses of the past year not drive more people to God? Why does the spiritual issue remain so high in the public's eye, yet, so low in their "real" lives and in church?
What does God expect of us? What do we want of God? Who is God? Where was God?
These are the type of questions that have plagued us for the past year. The answer to these questions will help define our faith and help us to understand the state of faith as we approach the end of 2002 - or the end of any other time period, past or future. Except to the extent that I may accurately draw answers from the Bible, I have no special insight into these questions. But, walk along with me as I explore the Bible in an effort to discover the state of faith.
In September 2002, PBS' "Frontline" aired a show addressing the question "Faith and Doubt at Ground Zero." The show, a "documentary" looked at the role faith played in people's lives in the events of September 11. I did not see the show. My observations and comments come from a Washington Post article of August 31, 2002. The article was entitled "Show Explores How Sept. 11 Affirmed - and Shattered - Faith. Neither the article nor the show was "Christian," although members of the Christian community participated.
For example, a rabbi was quoted as saying that "religion drove those planes into those buildings." Another added, "The same passion that motivates religious people to do great things is the same one that, that day, brought all that destruction." Some provided that God was God and we could not question His plan. Some found motivation in the aftermath of the attacks to reexamine their faith and return to church. Said one, "I want the church's teachings on the spiritual life after death to be true. . . . I need them to be."
Others, however, found that the attacks caused them to conclude God could not be counted on. "I was left with nothing but that thing we call faith. But faith in what? I wasn't so sure."
One author found the events merely confirmed his atheism. He found the fact that humans could kill and devastate other humans was a very isolating event, leaving him uncertain where to turn. Others found strength in the heroic stories of the rescue workers. All found faith played a role, just sometimes negative and sometimes positive.
It is easy to raise the questions of God's presence on September 11. This is not the purpose of this study, but one must use these questions as a basis of understanding the state of faith today in America. If Jesus returns will He find faith?