Great note and talk from Greg Boyd this week. The note is posted on his new ReKnew site http://reknew.org/2012/08/biblical-versus-magical-faith-reflections-on-the-reknew-manifesto/ and the complementary talk was delivered as a sermon at Woodland Hills last weekend http://whchurch.org/blog/6723/sledge-hammer-faith .
Many people, Christians included believe that faith is all about mustering up certainty to believe stuff, and that the opposite of faith is therefore doubt or skepticism. I think Boyd gets it spot on – faith is not an exercise of mental will, but of covenantal commitment. “Its not about striving for certainty, its the willingness to commit in the face of uncertainty.” (at 31 mins 29 secs).
If this is right then the most faithful thing we can do is to be honest about our questions and not try to either hype ourselves into believing some propositional doctrine, or perhaps even worse pretending to everyone else that we do believe all the right stuff.
Boyd also talks about the fact that while the content of belief can be important, in that its not good to build on error, what’s more important for the life of faith is the manner in which we hold our beliefs.
I’d also want to link this to two other posts this week. Over at Experimental Theology yesterday http://experimentaltheology.blogspot.com/2012/08/are-christians-hate-filled-hypocrites.html , Richard Beck returned to the subject of whether Evangelical forms of Christianity can become “a mechanism for allowing people to replace being a decent human being with an endorsed “spiritual” substitute?”. His conclusion is that; yes, holding beliefs in this way can make it easier for people to behave like jerks and not feel responsible for it. Right at the same time in the first Homebrewed Christianity Culture cast Christian Piatt “the church sign guy” and Jordan Green finish their excellent and wide ranging discussion with some thoughts around questioning, faith and thinking.
http://homebrewedchristianity.com/2012/08/04/this-is-a-test-the-homebrewed-culture-cast/ . Piatt and Green suggest, at around the hour mark, that drive to certainty – the idea of believing you are Right and holding the whole Truth inevitably tend to lead to people acting like an asshole toward others outside their privileged group.
So my question and challenge is how we help the church grow up from the comfort of certainty and into a risky, honest faithfulness. Does it need to be a traumatic process. And to what extent (ref Peter Rollins) does the very architecture and liturgy make that process even more difficult?