A crucial part of Learning Communities is capturing, curating and disseminating insights. Bishop Todd shares takeaways from his Learning Community on “Issues of Faith.”

When: July 19, 2017

Where: Holy Trinity Church, Costa Mesa, CA

Topic/Domain: Issues of faith for church members

I gave the participants some space to talk about their own faith issues, what they see in the church and their own experiences in it. This is what they said.  

“I notice issues of women/silence/traditional role emphasis, being subject to men. What Paul said seems culturally derived. It makes me wonder about the Church; it makes me wonder about Paul, the Bible and the Church’s interpretation.” (Several people agreed.) 

“People really do have questions, but they can’t question things at church.”

“I have a picture of an eternal reward, against the backdrop of my manifold sins, and the lack of people I have led to faith or discipled. It causes me to wonder if God is pleased with me, or will be pleased with me on that day. I feel a sense of hopelessness. What does God really think of me?”

“My thoughts are ahead of my actual experience. I know I am never alone, but I feel lonely; then I feel guilty and isolated.” 

“I struggle with the concept of different denominations: various interpretations of the Bible. I have more questions than answers, so many questions that I don’t think I can stand it.”

“I struggle with guilt for not living up to Jesus’ example.”

“Why do the scriptures say, ‘I give you bread, not a stone’? I feel God is giving me ‘stones.’ I struggle with comparing my life with others. I’m single, with no kids. The comparisons erode my trust in God.”

“I’m uncomfortable with the hubris of the church—narrow pettiness, judgmentalism. Trump and evangelicals often make it embarrassing to be called a Christian. The church is so broken. I have less desire to do evangelism because evangelical Christians are embarrassing.”

I then asked people to list the main issues of faith in the world that they are struggling with. Here are some of them.  

  • Human sexuality
  • “Christianese”—it doesn’t communicate, and it isolates us
  • Christians abusing political power
  • How to extricate “The Gospel” from a generation of bad-religious Christianity
  • Church and religion are not fun
  • Church is too “in your face”
  • Religion (especially “institutional” religion) is bad; it is the problem in the world. (Several people agreed.)
  • Epistemological issues: relativism; pluralism 
  • Suffering/theodicy
  • Can’t understand the Bible, especially the Book of Revelation
  • Exclusivity and unique claims about Jesus 
  • Is there a God?
  • Scientific “proofs” vs. religious “claims” 
  • Life is not connected to faith, and I don’t know how to get there. Faith doesn’t inform much of life.

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