According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – anon
Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – anon
Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson

Monday, November 28, 2011

What Faith Is

Faith ≠ Certainty, Doubt or Belief

by Peter Rollins
November 27, 2011

Learning to See Life's Beauty
The word “faith” is a much misunderstood term. In contemporary discourse it often means the act of believing in something that lacks empirical evidence, something that one affirms through intuition, the interpretation of a particular personal experience or the interpretation of a publicly observable phenomenon. However the term, in its more theological sense, has much more in common with a particular way of living.

It could be said to be an act of protest against the type of philosophy that Paul condemned in the Bible. The philosophical wisdom tradition has always been deeply marked by the idea that life simply is and that we should not impose meaning on it. While we tend to experience certain people as special and invest particular activities with significance (e.g. eating with someone we love) such a view claims that people are just people, that the meaning we see in the world is something we impose upon it and that the universe is simply made up of uniform particles (or vibrations etc.) occupying locations in space and time.

To speak of faith is to refer to a protest against such wisdom. What is important to bear in mind however is that this protest does not necessarily disagree with such a position any more than it agrees with it. To live in faith is to live as though the world has meaning, as if matter is special, as if what we do is significant. It has then nothing to do with belief, doubt or certainty but rather with a particular mode of living as-if.

Some theologians thus use the word “faithing” rather than “believing” to get to the heart of what Paul meant when he spoke of how we approach the divine. In this reading we are not believers but rather faithers. The notion of believers or unbelievers thus falls away in light of the question as to whether we are faithers or unfaithers. In other words, whether we engage with the world as infused with meaning, wonder, enchantment, mystery, divinity and beauty, or whether we don’t. It refers to a way of participating with reality in a different way, not believing an alternative mythology.

Faith thus exists in a different register to the categories of belief, doubt and certainty. It exposes the implicit impotence of these categories when applied to the event of Christ. To have faith is to see differently. Indeed the word “mystic” might be appropriate here as the term suggests closing ones eyes in order to see. The person of faith metaphorically closes their eyes to the wisdom that sees the world as without significance in order to see it as saturated with significance.

This is not however something we can muster up; we can’t simply tell ourselves to see the world in this way, it requires being taken up in love. To grasp this take a moment to think about how those who love the world can't help but experience it as meaningful even if they believe that it is not. Just as those who do not love cannot help but experience the world as meaningless even if they believe that it is in fact meaningful.

Faith then is the experience of being taken up in the experience of meaning, of feeling the world to be wonderful, the other as sublime and our neighbour as worth dying for. We cannot will such a way of engaging with the world into being, at best we can invite it, hope for it, wait for it, pray and weep for it.

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