Arthur Lough is a man in his early sixties. He has been a Christian minister for more than forty years. Over the course of his long career he has served the church in a variety of roles including, among other things, as a pastor and an educator. He is not currently serving a congregation nor, in fact, has he been employed in any aspect of Christian ministry for more than four years.
When I asked him about that, he tried to deflect the question with an attempt at humor. “I am currently in a state of temporary, mandatory retirement,” he joked. “I hope to get my retirement out of the way soon so that I can get back to the task of fulfilling my call to vocational ministry.”
Arthur Lough is a man who is serious about Christian faith and what he calls “radical discipleship,” but his belief system is undergoing great stress at the moment. Arthur is in the middle of a serious crisis of faith.
I met with him at his home yesterday, and when I arrived I found him reading an e-book he had recently downloaded to his Kindle. It was called Why I Believed: Reflections of a Former Missionary. The author is a man called Kenneth Daniels, and, as Arthur explained, “This guy grew up as an evangelical Christian, spent several years in Bible translation work in Africa, began to have some doubts about Christian faith, particularly the reliability of the Bible, and now, in his mid-forties, identifies himself as an agnostic with strong atheistic leanings.”
A mutual friend had told me about Arthur’s own struggles and the challenges he was facing in maintaining the strong and vibrant commitment to Christian faith which had characterized his life and ministry up until the past few years. I asked him if he was experiencing doubts like those of Kenneth Daniels.
“Well, I wouldn’t say that my doubts are the same as his,” Arthur replied. “But I can relate to his situation. I can understand how his faith could undergo such a test. Mine has too, but so far the end results are different. He abandoned faith altogether. I still have faith, but some days the distance between where Kenneth Daniels is and where I am is not that great.”