Saturday, October 27, 2007

For the Bible Tells Me So

Go see it!

Friday, October 5, 2007

Faith Part 2

I will continue with where I left off. I already talked about faith as assensus or assent. Now I will move on to the "heart" faith types. Heart in this context is the level deeper than thinking, perhaps even deeper than emotions, but containing emotions as well. It is our deep level of self that guides what we do.

The first kind of heart faith is faith as fiducia or faith as trust. It is not trusting that a set of facts are true. It is the kind of trust I share with Kevin. I have no doubt that when he says he's working late he is. I have no proof. When I call him on his cell he could potentially be anywhere. I would have no way of proving he is at his desk, but he says he is and I trust that. I can't imagine what it would be like to loose this. The opposite of this kind of faith is being anxious. I certainly would be anxious about what Kevin was doing if I didn't trust him.

How does this kind of faith relate to God? This is certainly a very relational faith. I need to trust God, trust in the promises God made. Trust that God has given me gifts and sees something in me that sometimes I struggle with seeing myself. Trust that I am saved by Grace and I don't need to worry about understanding it exactly. Trust that the essence of God is Life and Love. Trust that Christ did bring a new light into the world. If the opposite of this faith is being anxious the positive is relaxing. Relaxing in the knowledge that we are loved can certainly be difficult, but the promise after the cross is there is the resurrection. New life can come from present difficulties or pain. This kind of faith is transforming.

One final comment on faith as trust. When I was little I would go sledding with my older brother. Sometimes we would both go on the sled together. I would lay down on top of him holding on to his shoulders as we went head first down the hill. He enjoyed steering us off the main road and into the bumpy part where the trees were. I remember being scared, but then relaxing knowing that he was in control and wouldn't let us hit a tree. In order to enjoy the ride I had to put my trust in him and just relax. There wasn't a thing I could do anyway as we went flying past the trees inches (probably feet) away from danger.

The next kind of heart faith is faith as fidelitas or faith as being faithful. This kind of faith is about my relationship with God and being faithful to it. It is about being attentive. Again, this kind of faith is relational. God speaks to us in a variety of ways, and when I am not attentive to the relationship it is hard to hear what is being said. Perhaps this is why I feel directionless at times? This faith is what is being talked about in the third commandment when we are to remember the Sabbath and keep it holy. Luther's meaning of this includes not neglecting God's Word or the preaching of it. When the bible speaks about an idolatrous nation, it is talking about a nation that has neglected its relationship with God.

Finally, the last kind of heart faith is faith as visio or faith as a way of seeing. How do I see the world? Is it hostile and out to get me? Do I see it as indifferent? Both of these ways can lead us to having a suspicious attitude. I couldn't help but think about people driving big SUV and living with multiple locks on their house to protect themselves and family from all the perceived danger. We live in a dangerous, scary world after all. Or do we really? It is really unlikely that anything will happen to me when I leave my apartment today. It is also really unlikely that as I sit and type that someone will try to break in. Despite what the news tells us, we are safe. Sure occasionally something happens, but is it really worth it to have a negative world view because of something that might happen that is statistically incredibly unlikely?

This kind of faith goes beyond our personal safety concern issues. How do we view other people? How do we view the world as a whole? If I believe that each person I see or even those I never meet are created by the same loving God that created me or even that are just as valuable then my feeling and actions toward them are certainly influenced. We learn from the story of the Good Samaritan that we are all neighbors, and treating others this way is how the Kingdom of God is and will be.

In summary, faith is about what we believe, but it is also about trust, being attentive to our relationship with God, and how we view the world.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Faith Part 1

My intention was to continue talking about sin with my next post, but I haven't had the energy surrounding that right now. But very soon, or eventually, I will say something about corporate sin, just not today.

I started reading The Heart of Christianity by Marcus Borg and have found it does an excellent job of putting language around things I think about. The first chapter is mainly about the two paradigms of Christianity. The second chapter, which I would like to comment on, is about faith.
He breaks faith down into four categories, three dealing with "heart" and one dealing with "head."

Faith as Assenus, Latin for assent, is the head faith. The kind of faith I have struggled with. There are many things about Christianity about God about quantum physics I don't understand. (And yes I think the three are related.) And the more I read or talk to people the longer it gets. Oh, occasionally, I will hear something or read something that will trigger a moment of understanding, but then like vanities of vanities it just floats away. Stealing from Ecclesiastes, this kind of faith is like chasing after the wind. But, I love the pursuit! I have come to relax in this area. Well, that isn't completely honest I can become overwhelmed when I think about all the books I haven't read or thing I can't talk intelligently about. But I do have the understanding that I can't understand it all. For me loving God with all my mind is about never giving up the pursuit of understanding. ('cause what fun would that be?)

Of course, even this understanding of faith is very much because I live in a society greatly influenced by the protestant reformation and the Enlightenment. It was these two events that color my understanding of faith as an exercise of the mind. During the reformation emphasis was put on having right beliefs or correct beliefs. Oh the joy of understanding transubstantiation and consubstantiation. The Enlightenment brought us a new way of thinking about truth as factual. Something being true means that it is factually verifiable. But there is a deeper level of truth in metaphors. This metaphorical truth was the kind of truth the bible was written with because they, of course, had not been "enlightened" .

The opposite of faith as assent is doubt or disbelief, but without my doubt I don't think I would have much of a desire for the chase. It is a combination between my faith and my doubts that keeps me pursuing understanding. Although, as I look at the three kinds of "heart" faiths, it may be these faiths that keep me connected to God despite my doubts.

Marcus Borg claims there are three ideas we need to have faith in, or assent to, to be Christian.
First we must believe there is a God. Second, that Jesus is central. That God's wisdom, love and Word (logos) is revealed through Christ. This does not mean we have to exclusive. And finally, that the bible is central. That the bible is the foundational document and the Word of God is disclosed in it.

So, I will sign off for now. I don't want my posts to be too long. I have more to say about the other three kinds of faith, but that will have to put on hold for now.

I leave with these questions:
What if I believe the wrong thing?
What if I'm wrong about all of it?
Will it really matter?

Thursday, August 30, 2007


Tonight I started by thinking about sin. I looked through Why Christian? by Douglas John Hall, which I had previously read, to get some good quotes or ideas to start my thinking. (This is when underlying while reading really pays off.) I starting rereading one of the chapters which starting with what Jesus died for. Jesus died for our sins right? But do we really feel guilty? I think I'm a pretty good person. Sure I can look for ways that make me feel guilty if I think I need a reality check, but my overall state of being is that I'm pretty good. Heaven and hell are too abstract and too (hopefully) far into the future to occupy much of my thoughts. It is something that I consider when someone dies, but other than that it doesn't occupy much of my time.
This was the basic idea of how this chapter started. And I can really relate.
So what is sin then? And why did Jesus die? And does it make sense in our modern context.

Jesus died so that I might have life and have it more abundantly. Sounds good. But there is more to explore here.

So what is sin? Is it moral wrong doing? No. Is it breaking the 10 commandments? Sorta, but way more complex and simple than just that. We can't reduce Christianity to doing what is "good" and being moral people. If we do, we not only miss the point but we miss the Gospel (good news).

Sin is separation, alienation, not being whole.

Sin is what separates me from God. God who is love. God who is life. Sin keeps me from being in communion with the source of life and love.

Sin is what tears apart community. It is what keeps me from loving other people and them from loving me. It is what makes me think I am better than someone else and by doing so keeps me from being in community with them. Sin is separation and alienation that hinders community. Community is how we sustain life and experience love. It is how we experience God in tangible ways.

Sin is what keeps me from being the complete person God created me to be. It is my laziness, my self centeredness, my lack of trust, my lack of confidence. Anything that hinders me from being complete. Sin is brokenness and I am a broken person. We all are.

It is way to late to continue or edit. So there you have it. My first post on this blog. Stay tune for future ramblings.