I’ve actually just been listening to the “You Lost Me” from Barna on Audible, too. Interesting stuff. Thanks!
Despite all this angst and stress, I think that God is truth, and we don’t have to fear questioning. Lamoureux for example, points out that many people think of God as the embodiment of virtues–truth, justice, etc.
I have to say that there are times in our experience–through no fault of our own–that He seems not to be there. Evolution can be beautiful, but also can be overwhelming in its randomness. Injustice is sickening. Investigating it can be difficult, and sometimes alienate us from our friends and church (but see also @Reggie_O_Donoghue’s recent postings that Christianity does better than atheists in many ways; also Violence in the OT by John Dickson on Youtube - YouTube)
If God is really truth, it doesn’t matter whether we understand or not. It is not our fault whether we see past the emptiness and despair. And, as in Psalm 103, “as a father pities his children, the Lord pities those who fear him; for He knows our frame. He remembers that we are dust.”
In fact, in questioning, in leaving the church, in getting to experience the world (that He made)–may be just the growing time that He wants us to have.
George Macdonald said “You doubt because you love truth.” His picture was of two people meeting on a steep hillside. They are at the same elevation, but one is running downhill fast because of his selfish thoughts; and the other is trudging uphill slowly, trying to find the truth. From externals, they are at the same point, but in reality, there is all the difference of completely different aims. God, or Truth, knows the heart of each one.
Thus, the atheist or agnostic, young or old, who honestly questions, and finds his or her thoughts leading them away from God–is, in my understanding, much closer to Him than the one that sticks by faith out of pride or the “older brother” mentality. Fear may be another reason for sticking with the faith–for example, of losing one’s salvation–but while that’s not a valid reason to remain against one’s intellect, it’s yet another weakness we all suffer from–and God won’t judge us for something we can’t handle.
If what I’m writing is pure mud, let me know. However, “You Lost Me” and the article above both clearly explain struggles that honest people have. They reassure me that God not only rejoices in the use of the minds that He gave them (as in Greg Boyd’s book "Benefit of the Doubt), but values that more than blind faith for selfish reasons. If God is just, as I believe He is, being outside the church isn’t anything more than being outside our current understanding of religion, as long as God is truth and we try to remain intellectually honest.