is not an abstract thing
; faith is only expressed in and through our human personality
. Therefore who and what we are affects the way in which we express faith in the course of human life
Therefore: faith changes as it grows, shrinks, develops, matures and changes perspective as we move along in life.
Crisis of Faith: most us of will experience times when doubt creeps in, and wonder how we can respond to our chosen deity in the circumstances we now face. These crises are vital in the development and maturation of faith, as we try and reassess our former “faith-expression” and fit into the new circumstances and challenges we face.
The word “crisis” comes from the Greek word krisis, which means decision. Therefore these crises that we face in our faith are turning points, where we can grow in faith or not.
Doubt: “Existential doubt”, or doubt that can co-exist with a strong faith, is doubt that leads us through the crisis mentioned earlier and can bring about an opportunity to strengthen our faith.
Faith is always a risk, a "leap in the dark".
Stages in the Development of Faith:
- 1) Infancy and Childhood: we see that we sometimes think of our deity or other focus as someone/something that will satisfy needs and desires. We are ruled by an external moral “guard”, and we are dependent on that focus. The challenge is to be more and more “our own person”.
- 2) Adolescence: rebelling against authority can also take form in rebelling against parents’ religion. We must have our “own religion” and our “own faith”. We must always be finding new and strong ways in which to meet and respond to religion or other factors in our life.
- 3) Adulthood: We have two stages of adulthood when it comes to faith: early adulthood, where we encounter risk, and later adulthood, where we may encounter a crisis of meaning. In early adulthood, we make life-decisions such as marriage or career choice, which of course carry some sort of risk. Faith is similar to this, as we must make decisions in our response to our chosen deity or focus. In later adulthood, we reach what most call a “mid-life crisis”, met with physical changes such as menopause and advancing age. We may begin to question “Why are we here?”, and in religion, love or any other facet of our faith we can find some solace in asking these questions for our search for meaning.
We should not allow ourselves to become fixated in any of the earlier stages so that any one of them totally dominates our relationship with our deity, religion or focus. We should aim at greater maturity.
While I am not a religious person, I do still believe in the ideals of faith, and therefore believe that crises of faith develop the person into a better, well-rounded member of their community. I live in terms of focus, which, while not worshipping any deity or practicing any formal religion, helps me get by. Faith is a necessary element of this focus, and therefore when I experience a crisis of faith, I feel strengthened by the problem and subsequently the solution.
Stages of the development of faith sourced from Ian Knox's "Theology for Teachers".