I have been doing a lot of reading from various people and their thoughts about the Christian faith and I have noticed something – the intellectualization of the faith – the faith in mere debate and radical study. I am wondering if this is a good thing or something bad?
I think studying and looking at the scriptures is an important thing – even the historical context of the faith is of importance to me – since I have only the early authors to rely on for accuracy in the biblical writings (ex: Matthew, Peter, Paul, James, and John). I have found through much study that many questions surround the validity of this faith – questions regarding the resurrection, the person of Jesus (did he even exist?), the sayings of Jesus (are these his sayings?), historicty of events in the texts (did they even happen?), is Jesus the Messiah, differences between Paul and the gospels, the Gnostic texts, errors in the bible (ex: contradictions), and tonnes of stuff about variations in the faith from early Christianity (ex: building of the canon). Basically, there is a question for everything you read about in the actual texts.
To be perfectly honest, how the hell do you know who is being intellectually honest and who isn’t? Who is telling the closest story about what’s true in the texts and who isn’t? I find that both sides on the debate (believers and non-believers) have an agenda and it is hard to determine which side is being realistic. I have read stuff by atheists, muslims, fundamentalists, historians, jewish writings, professors, and blog writers…each one has their own sense of credibility if u ask me. So I look at the whole picture and think – well, who is telling the best story here?
I also take at a look at people that don’t over intellectuialize this faith and I see the dearness of the faith to them – it’s not that they aren’t asking questions but they truly believe in God, no qualms about that. On an even closer look one will see that faith is dropping out in countries with time on their hands to merely study the texts as compared to those with less time on their hands due to hardship (in which religion continues to either grow or remain at an even level). It really makes you wonder about some of the sincerity of the faith that these texts were meant to produce and what it is producing in some circles. I think eventually faith communities in Europe and the America’s will continue to drop until it becomes non-existent if things don’t change.
What needs to change is always the big question. Maybe the reality of what those texts are supposed to mean in an intellectual community – since it is not yet irrational to believe the teachings of Jesus – which is only counter-acted by ‘doing’, not ‘talking’. I think the faith of Christianity can have a greater impact if it becomes a religion of doing – mainly in sustainable programs for the communties churches reside in. People can speak for years and write all the books they want, but doing is something tangible and means something to both the doer and the reciever (which is not something we can put a price tag on). To me the doing means you actually believe the rhetoric you are saying – it’s the step right after thinking it through. So in some sense, it’s the doing that matters – not so much the lip-service.
But this is where I am at in life – I hear a lot of good things and bad things being said about the faith of Christianity – each side is as convincing as the next (no one seems to be winning the battle here). What I am yearning to see is the Christian faith revolutionize itself into a strong ‘doing’ community that will stand the test of time and not be washed asunder by rhetoric – which oddly enough – the services are built around. Talk is the beginning – but we have years of talk in church circles – we need some action – some ‘doing’ – some substance – a reason to believe that doesn’t merely involve more ‘talk’. Intellect is a good thing – I am thankful for all the thinkers – but action is greater – I am even more thankful for those that lay their life on those words and do something about it – for without them this faith is at a loss of words.