Faith as a System – Paradigm Shifts

Is it a viable position for a person to choose not to believe based on no other reason than they just do not feel that God exists?” (Steve at SCP)

This is where this question gets real interesting. How much can we trust feelings? How much can we trust experience? How much can you trust you thoughts? What serves as the back-drop for filtering these things and making a paradigm for them? I do know for certain that all aspects of the human experience make us.

I personally use my belief system (Jesus’ Teachings) as a back-drop to develop a system whereby feelings and experiences are thought upon and then developed into the paradigm (value system). I feel, I think, I live, I interact, I draw a conclusion (value – changeable), I develop – then do it all over again. I don’t know – does anyone else’s faith system work this way – so easily?

PS: I don’t actually think faith is based in feelings (which differ from experiences – they are not one in the same – actually sometimes run contrary to one another and help define each other).

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15 thoughts on “Faith as a System – Paradigm Shifts

  1. Hi Society,

    I believe that faith is a gift and that it is of the same stuff as spirit–the invisible force that moves all things visible. It is that which moves our thoughts and feelings for those of us who have been gifted by God to believe in Jesus. A value system built from the substance of Spirit, which is the living God, can’t be broken. Only that which is visible and mortal can be destroyed while all that is spiritual remains as do the values formed by spiritual communion directly with our Heavenly Father through Jesus Christ.

    This is an interesting topic.

    Pam

  2. Hi Society – good to see you are still around.

    As a christian, I was taught not to trust my feelings too much, since they were derived from self. ANd of course, self is sinful, so it is not to be trusted.

    How does it work now? I think my faith left as a result of investigating and studying Scriptures, and not being able to corelate that to many things in my practical everyday life.

    My value system has not changed at all since my ‘deconversion’ from Christianity. If anything my wife and I are closer than ever.

  3. “I believe that faith is a gift” (Pam)

    Pam thanks for the comment – got me thinking a bit. I am not totally sure faith is a gift (it could be) – but to me it is something that is awakened within us by acknowledging God might be there (asking those questions and then looking for that Spirit)? Is that the same as a ‘gift’ (possibly)? Either way – thanks Pam for the gift of getting me to think!

    “My value system has not changed at all since my ‘deconversion’ from Christianity. If anything my wife and I are closer than ever.” (HIS)

    I think that is great news to hear – maybe dropping the bondage of religion has freed you – since we know that religion can very well ‘tie us up’ (so many damn rules & procedures). I am glad to hear that your family life is closer – I do feel this is something we all need to strive for (intimacy) – thanks for sharing HIS.

    That being said 2 simple points for us to consider:

    (1) I also come closer to my wife in the last 2 years (since returing to studying the scriptures) – I have also found we both enter situations now with having each other’s (and those around us) best interest at heart. I think faith can also help to build the same things you find without out – it’s all perspective.

    (2) I have not found the need to de-convert – not that it does not cross my mind when I am struggling with hard headed church people (it sure does). But my faith is involved in the poorest regions of Canada and the people that reside in those conditions (I am part of that poverty and have family stuck in it).

    It would be absolutely convenient for me to drop faith in the name of logic/reason – but that makes no logical/reasonable sense (in my reality). What hope do you give people that are truly broken and have almost given-up on society? They have nothing to ‘call their own’ and find hope in very degrading thoughts and ideas (ex: hating others for a sense of control).

    Just maybe faith gives them a gift they can have and give back – hope and participation with all of us in society as equals…I think they want this and desire this type of acceptance. I see this in the faith system – maybe it works for the ‘poor’ in society – I know it picked me up from the ghetto (when I suffered in poverty) and I see the greatness of that. It’s hard for me to see the greatness of ‘logic’ as of yet in a real-time situation – it’s good in debate that’s for sure.

  4. **How much can we trust feelings? How much can we trust experience? How much can you trust you thoughts? ** I think we can trust them to a great extent. Not fully, and not all the time. But we can trust them.

    Much of Western Christianity seems to focus on the logic/rational portion, and discard the ‘mythos’ portion. One thing that troubles me about an either/or approach to something — as in the BIble is all true or it can’t be trusted — if that it restricts everything to logic. Say there’s concrete proof that there was no Exodus on that large of a scale. For some, that would cause them to lose faith altogether. But that leads to faith being based on logic, doesn’t it? And faith should also be based on a personal experience with the Divine, or an encounter with the Divine. And that’s where feelings and experiences come into play. Knowing God is a relationship, and that takes both logic and feelings/emotions.

  5. Heather those are some great points – and we see a lot of this in the other blogs when it comes to rationale and feelings – too much of one or the other as the main basis – is well, out of whack. I think balance is the true key to finding a life that works in it’s highest form.

  6. I’m unsure of the truth or untruth of such comments. I guess I have a ways to go…

    But I know that for me faith seems to well up from some deep eternal place and it often manifests itself as a feeling. It certainly does not bear the scrutiny of logic.

    I know folks who seem to lack that sense, and they seem to struggle more greatly with elements of faith.

    I add scripture and reasoning and logic to this sense of something more deep within, and my faith solidifies.

    Bottom line, there is a living thing, something which twists and reacts to the beauties and mysteries I see around me which seems to be the center of my faith.

  7. “Bottom line, there is a living thing, something which twists and reacts to the beauties and mysteries I see around me which seems to be the center of my faith.” Curious Servant

    Well said.

    A living person is not a system, and neither is faith a system. If it were a system you could go through a checklist (that everyone could verify) and then have faith as a guaranteed result.

    Faith is truly an expression of something outside the system. It says, “I cannot see this, yet I am sure of it …”. The world cannot understand it because the world belongs to a system. To this extent Paul tells us not to be conformed to the pattern of this world. The world always follows a pattern, a system. Loving one’s enemies is an example of breaking that system.

    Feelings are only of spiritual importance when they become infinite – that is to say passion. And rational thought only becomes spiritually meaningful when it cannot be rationally thought.

    I’m with SocietyVs’ uncertainty about whether or not faith is a gift. I don’t know. I could take either perspective from the Bible.

  8. I agree with Pam that faith is a gift, see Eph 2:8,9.

    Yet there is logic involved, at least in the long run. Someone might come to the faith at a very emotional time in their life (a loved one dies) but as they continue in the faith there will be a need for some rationalization. Then another will logically come to believe in the faith and at some point it becomes emotional. Is it possible to walk this faith without both emotional and rational decisions directing us?

    As well there is a need to compare what we think and feel with what we know of God. Many things I believe and practice today are a result of logical deductions, some I must rely on my feelings.

    God gave us a heart and a brain… shouldn’t we use both?

  9. “I add scripture and reasoning and logic to this sense of something more deep within, and my faith solidifies.” (Curious Servant)

    I have come to the same conclusion on some level – it’s a bit of living, studying, and thinking – and each help to make the other more strong. Thanks Curious Servant for the comment – haven’t seen you in a while.

    “The world cannot understand it because the world belongs to a system…The world always follows a pattern, a system. Loving one’s enemies is an example of breaking that system.” (BB)

    I use the word ‘system’ here for lack of a better way to frame the whole thing – cause for me there is something ‘systematic’ about how we develop our value systems. We do take into account our feelings, thoughts, and previous experiences then try to solidify the value. But I do think this all starts from the point of ‘faith’ – believing in God as opposed to not believing in God. It’s funny but I sound really rational about this – but living our values is nothing dogmatic.

    “Is it possible to walk this faith without both emotional and rational decisions directing us?” (Ken)

    I would say it is but if you look at the people that rely heavily on one or the other – they fall into camps which can become ‘uncompassionate’ or ‘crazy’. I think there is real dnager in relying on ‘feelings’ heavily but also I feel the same about knowledge – feeling good and being intellectual are not the goals of this faith in my opinion.

    “God gave us a heart and a brain… shouldn’t we use both?” (Ken)

    I lean towards ‘yes’ but my heart says ‘no’ – it’s like the old saying ‘if the world is thinking, then we ought not to think because the world is doing it – and I don’t wanna be part of the world’. (Sorry this last bit was ripe for sarcasm.)

  10. I don’t think we can help but to express our faith by our thoughts and feelings. That is the way we are made and our actions proceed from both. That is why I see faith as a gift that moves my mind and heart in a godly direction that I would never choose for myself if I relied upon my reason or my feelings. Even in Christ, it is possible to trade true spiritual direction in my life for again returning to reliance upon my feelings and my intellect.LOL! I’m a mess. In the real world, I probably rely too much upon my heart in governance of my actions and in my writing too much upon my intellect. I’m blessed by this conversation for it has reminded me to be mindful of relying upon God’s Spiritual direction for the better outcome.

    Have a Jesusful day Guys!

    Pam

  11. “I agree with Pam that faith is a gift, see Eph 2:8,9.” BrotherKen

    This is what keeps me from saying faith is not a gift. I also consider that everything good comes from God.

    On the other hand, (as Aquinas often said) God doesn’t need faith since He knows everything, so how can faith be from Him? And why did Jesus so often say, “Your faith has healed you”? If it is from God, why did he call it “your faith”?

  12. Once you’ve accepted and opened a gift, you are the owner.

    Another thought, though only what is good comes from God, He is soveriegn over all that happens and only the evil He allows takes place. The demons trembled before Jesus in the Bible account but I’ve never read of them trembling before Satan. Satan does nothing that is not allowed by the Father either. That is why we should fear God and not Satan. Satan only likes to trick people into thinking that he is a strong and powerful as God. He is not, he is limited.

    My beliefs are also guided by scripture but they become a part of my character through my personal experience of God. My mind is moved by the Spirit through study of scripture, listening to sound preaching and teaching but my heart is changed as the principles of God become real in my life and I respond with love and gratitude.

    Pam

  13. Very thought-provoking post, society.

    BB, It’s your faith that God has given you. God doesn’t need it to survive, but He doesn’t need anything to survive.

    Feelings are OK as long as we are being led by the Spirit and not the flesh. There are many examples of how people follow their flesh-led feelings and try to incorporate that into their faith. This is why progressives embrace abortion and homosexuality because they don’t see any other way but to include their sincerely passionate feelings for others who practice these things. However, they are not being led by the Spirit.

    If Spirit isn’t pulling our wagon, we are in trouble. Blessings.

  14. I used the word “feel” in my original statement – and that’s always risky.

    I think I did so, since there were many on my site during the context of those conversations that were questioning me regarding my attempts to reduce God to logic or facts. Some were saying I was missing the point… that God is to be experienced (some even described those experiences as feelings) and “who am I” to argue with another person’s experience.

    Of course I disagree. I think we can argue with another person’s experience but you probably won’t change their paradigm unless they experience a failure of that paradigm for themselves.

    I was taught FACT – FAITH – FEELINGS.

    First, you determine facts. You have faith based on those facts. Then you have feelings (or experiences) that further support your faith in those facts.

    For example… I have heard the story of Jesus and the Bible and accept it to be true. I accept these statements as “facts”. I place my faith and trust in these “facts” and believe that Jesus, God and the HS are real entities. Then when I pray, or have certain experiences that support my faith, they also in turn solidify the “facts”.

    So I think people run it both ways, depending on how they want to view it. If you counter the facts of the gospel or Bible… they go to the experiences that support their faith. If you counter their experiences and doubt them, then they point to the “facts” of the Bible to support their faith.

    The paradigm they have is “faith”… and it’s faith at all costs (in spite of evidence against the facts and arguments against the feelings)… since many of us cannot conceive of a life outside of faith.

    It’s a lot like love. I cannot imagine a life outside of my marriage to my spouse. But when she leaves me (a fact) and no longer is interested in me (a feeling) do I still cling to the faith of our love that we once shared. To do so is to be delusional and in need of therapy. Now that’s a paradigm shift!

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