This part of Caught in the Pulpit has been analyzing the process of how a person goes from seminary to unbelief but one of the things that the writers discovered that it perhaps was burnout or depression that cause people to leave their faith. While most clergy experience both at some time during their career the thing was it could not be noted that this was the cause of loss of faith. If anything, loss of faith was already present and then burnout and depression become the results. Depression is true in large measure in this regard as a person loses their faith. As a clergy person loses their faith, they fall lower into depression. Burnout is not so much affected by this but it can be a result down the line as a person loses their reason for being in the clergy in the first place.
I can see this and experienced it when had my own faith crisis. The authors are not describing something foreign to me as I began to get depressed the more of my beliefs that I discarded. I also however began to lose the energy I would use to do the ministry. After all if you are struggling with your belief in God, one of the consequences is also you experience a shaken belief that what you are doing for God ahs importance or value.
I am glad the authors dealt with this because it does help answer the question of the chicken or the egg question for loss of faith and its relationship to depression and burnout. Loss of faith is the cause, depression and burnout are the effects. It has been interesting though that one thing that can happen then is as a person loses faith they may lack the right frame of mind or energy then to truly examine whether or not they have abandoned faith for good reasons. It becomes an interesting question that if it is this depression that ultimately solidifies the clergy person’s loss of faith rather than continued inquiry into the truth.
The next part of this book tries to establish some of the recurring themes that have come out of this study at this point.