In a course entitled DSM-IV Religious & Spiritual Problems, the psychology course book states, “Loss of faith is specifically mentioned [in the DSM-IV] as a religious problem.” For the person who has seemingly lost faith significant emotional distress is common.
The psychological problem then isn’t the loss of faith, but the distress that is associated with the loss. Yet, the distress surrounding the loss of faith is necessary for healing, for finding the true God. So, before we can help ourselves or someone else who has “lost” their faith, we must first discover what is actually lost. Is it faith or religion; or maybe faith in religion?
My take on the loss of faith, especially as I have experienced it, is that a loss of “faith” is not real. Loss of faith is a painful shedding of something that was illusory to begin with. Maybe the most profound words that have come from Bob Dylan, and he has had so many profound words, are from his song Positively 4th Street:
You say you’ve lost your faith, but that’s not where it’s at/
You have no faith to lose, and ya know it.
The faith most people cling to and hopefully eventually lose is a false faith that provides temporary security, belonging, safety—the answers. It is constructed and though it may fit for a time, it is always uncomfortable. If you grow in authenticity or conversely grow in bitterness, this constructed faith starts to break apart like moth-eaten clothing. Until you lose your false faith, lose the need for security, belonging, safety—lose your need for the answers—then you will never find God.
Thus, what is really lost is faith in institutions, faith in religion, faith in work and money, faith in power, faith in family/identity, faith in ideologies, faith in science and progress, faith in politics and politicians, etc. And losing these faiths is good news because these are all idols—false Gods. These must be shed to find the true God, who is already imminently present to all creation. Jesus said, “… the one who loses their life because of me will find it” (Mt 10:39b). This verse could as easily be written: “the one who loses their faith because of me will find it.”
Loss of this false faith is the process of finding yourself, God, and then, of course, finding real faith: saving faith in the Alpha and Omega.
© Paul Dordal, 2019