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?

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