Monday, September 28, 2009

Belief in....

Am reading "The Spirit of Early Christian Thought" by Wilken. This is a very enjoyable read that seeks to describe the development of Christian dogmatic belief. There are two valuable passages on page 180. This post refers to the first, which reads ""It is...the things believed, not the act of believing them, which is peculiar to religion...." (quoting John Henry Newman).

Faith isn't simply believing that something happened; that someone lived. Rather faith is believing the precepts, the implications, the values of the thing believed in. That last word is critical in understanding faith. We don't simply believe Jesus lived; we believe in the life He lived, the message he brought. We don't simply believe that we have memorized the message He brought - we actually believe it, we own it, it transforms us, it becomes us.

In this way, the Christian faith is not a thing to be learned from a distance, but a way of life to be entered. Faith isn't the recitation of a creed (although creeds can be helpful), but is the embodiment of that creed and the message of the things accepted in the creed. This is why we can say "faith without works is dead," or again, need reminding that the fruit of the Spirit is love. If we say we believe and yet don't live as Jesus lived, there is real question concerning the reality - the validity - of our faith. If we do not enter the faith life with our eyes, our hearts, our minds looking toward identity with God, we enter something less than that to which we are called.

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