Okay, I have to admit it… I have developed a really negative attitude about how people use the term “Faith,” at least in Evangelical circles (not saying that other groups are better at it). Some seem to think that faith is the absence (or negation) of doubt (ridiculous and unbiblical idea). Others seem to think almost that it is a substance that has quantity (yes, I am aware of the words of Jesus such as having faith the size of a mustard seed… but please don’t get lost in the metaphor). The focus shifts from what or who your faith is based on with the “quantity” of your faith. Others seem to look at faith as an emotional element only, or cognitive only. Many seem to want to divorce faith from faithfulness. Faith becomes something you have contained within yourself rather than something you live out. I am comfortable, generally, in describing myself as an Evangelical. Evangelicals like to say that their beliefs are built on Scripture (and Biblical Theology) but the biggest area that Evangelical churches drift into tradition and sloppy hermeneutics appears, to me at least, to be in the area of faith. So I am hoping to bring up some things in the area of faith in some upcoming posts. These are not, strictly speaking, attempts to “sway the public,” but rather to learn and grow as I work through this complicated theme. Okay, maybe it isn’t complicated, but it sure seems to be as we deal with theses and antitheses on the topic through over 2000 years of history.
So, I am going to start with a quote from Michael Wakely, an OM missionary, from his book, “Can it be true? A personal pilgrimage through faith and doubt”. Quote is from chapter 2 (“Cerebral Faith”)
The Bible has a lot to say about using our minds. Jesus commanded his disciples to “love the Lord your God with all your… mind,” and then “opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.” It is stating the obvious to say that the mind is useful, but there are Christians who advise that it is only when we shut down our minds that God will be able to take over. That’s just what the critics of Christianity have been saying for years: Faith is intellectual suicide
John Stott states in his helpful booklet “Your Mind Matters.” “If we do not use the mind which God has given us, we condemn ourselves to spiritual superficiality and cut ourselves off from many of the riches of God’s grace.” I like that. God has given us a mind, and expects us to submit it to Him and then use it. Our minds are there to search for good answers to the hard questions… and if those answers are still not satisfactory, to have the wisdom to submit in faith to the certainty that there is a superior wisdom above.
… The popular conception is that the Christian faith requires closed eyes and closed minds, followed by a surge of comfortable feeling. As long as the feel-good factor is there, the irrational leap is justified. That is a travesty of a faith that is rooted in space, time, and history. I have lived long enough with other great world religions to know that there are other ways of looking at faith, which do not invite close intellectual examination. But it is not so with Christianity. … The plain fact is that few world religions invite examination under the microscope and prefer, or even claim, to be regarded either as a mythology, because they deal with abstract concepts rather than concrete realities, or as above inspection, because examination is viewed as an insult to the divine.
It is unfortunate when Christianity is judged in the same light and the impression is given that one needs to turn off the mind in order to believe– “Choose faith or brains, you can’t use both together.” Or “Close your eyes, submit yourself to your emotions. God is an experience to make your feelings tingle. Switch off your brain before it gets in the way. ” Sadly, a lot of Christian teaching– and even more Christian experience– would agree with these popular travesties.