Faith – On the Endangered Philosophies List

I notice, in all of this blogging, there is a lot of marks against faith we can find (including myself in on this one)…I wonder if we can find the ‘good’?

However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8)

I think faith is a ‘good’ thing as much as I critique a lot of theologies and viewpoints on the subject. I have my ‘beefs’ with certain viewpoints (namely irresponsibility and misrepresentation) but I have come to see – faith in and of itself is not the problem.

So what are the ‘good’ things about having faith? Or are we doomed to lose faith because there is nothing inherently ‘good’ about it?

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44 thoughts on “Faith – On the Endangered Philosophies List

  1. (a) Faith can provide hope to the hopeless/the poor/the suffering

    I have seen this first-hand – observed and experienced it. Faith has helped myself – and many others – to rise above the conditions in which they were raised and develop a new outlook on life (even a pattern for living by). How did it come about? Hope was what I required in my time of need and something in faith – spirituality – spoke loud n clear like a still small voice one day.

    (b) Faith can provide discipline

    I think we tend to forget how disciplined faith can make us…I see how it brought me from someone with no life goals to someone with more than enough to last me for years. It gave me the background, oddly enough almost military, as to how to structure my day and push myself to the limits of what I ‘thought’ I could attain/do. I almost forget this when I look at where I am today in life – but then I remember what I was doing some 17 years ago – and I just cannot even fathom being there again.

  2. Jason

    Interesting post. I was thinking about this recently. My question would be, “How does your faith inform your world”? It definately isnt the same for all people.

  3. ““How does your faith inform your world”? It definately isnt the same for all people.” (John)

    That’s the truly interesting and debateable part – IMO. I know for me – most of my debates are based on the outworking of one’s faith and how useful such theologies may be…and if they are not helpful at all. I just noticed it’s too big a focus of mine – very negative in a sense.

    My faith, or at least the teachings of the faith, help shape pretty much every facet of my life in some little or major ways. I also realize that not everything is about faith all the time – sometimes it’s just about having a quality standard to abide by. I know the standard exists as the basics for me – my foundation/paradigm/pattern – and I can deviate as needed (depending on unusual scenarios). However, I think faith overall has been the greatest changer of my existence in all honesty.

    But for me faith is open to criticism…and needs to be.

  4. For me, faith isn’t something that I do, but rather it is a gift that has been given to me.

    It is often weak, and small, because at root, I am an unbeliever at heart and am determined to stay that way.

    But God has other ideas, and gives to me and renews my faith (in Himself).

  5. “For me, faith isn’t something that I do, but rather it is a gift that has been given to me” (Steve)

    Explain to me this – if it is a ‘gift’ – and it renewed by ‘God’ – what is your role as the recipient of this ‘gift’? Even people that get gifts take care of them out of respect for the giver.

    Also what kind of God is this that must sustain any faith within you to have faith in Him – an egocentric puppet master? Basically I cannot for the life of me understand why He would waste His time on creation if this were the case.

  6. You are right, Jason. A gift ought be taken care of.

    But since we are sinners and we basically do not trust God on our own, and since the world, the flesh, and the devil are all actively working against the interests of God, He takes steps to keep us in faith. (the Holy Spirit)

    I think that the only reason God takes this time and effort for us is because He made us, and loves us…in spite of our not loving Him like we ought.

  7. “But since we are sinners and we basically do not trust God on our own” (Steve)

    Would you say we are able to trust other humans on our own? Like a mother or father or son or daughter or is that also a gift?

    “since the world, the flesh, and the devil are all actively working against the interests of God, He takes steps to keep us in faith. (the Holy Spirit)” (Steve)

    What exactly are the interests of God? Having faith is one of them I can see – but what else do you think is of interest to God – what is God’s focus?

    “I think that the only reason God takes this time and effort for us is because He made us, and loves us…in spite of our not loving Him like we ought.” (Steve)

    God created us – Loves us – and yet we need faith from Him also in order to relate to Him? So God can actually say His creation is created with a ‘flaw’? That ‘flaw’ being we need a ‘gift’ of faith in order to ‘reach out and touch Him’…which begs the obvious – why not just create humans with a built in faith mechanism at some point? Why just keep bringing out the same old human model that needs this gift? Even humans make better and better technologies of old technologies to make the process that much more efficient. It makes little sense we can do this and God doesn’t do this?

  8. We can trust each other, but we are not born with an inherent distrust of our parents.

    We are born in active rebellion to God.

    He reaches out and touches us…we are dead in our sins and trespasses until God give us faith in Himself.

    “– why not just create humans with a built in faith mechanism at some point? ”

    Good question. When we get there we can ask Him!

  9. God’s interests?

    I think as far as we are concerned, He just wants us to trust in Himself (faith).

    He wants it so much, that He gives us the gift and nurtures it.

  10. I think faith provides mystery. We tend to look at God like we look at science and we package him up in a nice little systematic theology. No mystery. But God is not packagable. There will always be things that are not understood about God. There is mystery. And I like that.

  11. “We can trust each other, but we are not born with an inherent distrust of our parents” (Steve)

    Are you sure this isn’t a learned behavior over time? I am not sure a baby born from the womb of a woman becomes distrustful of that same person instantly. Are you sure your not confusing the growing into ‘self’ with distrust? People eventually have to develop the skills to survive in this world on their own – without their parents supervision – so little by little they have to push boundaries as they mature to grow into a fully capable human being.

    “We are born in active rebellion to God’ (Steve)

    I really see little proof of this idea within human reality. Kids rarely curse God – in fact it’s in this age group we see the quickest learners for understanding simple processes of faith.

    “we are dead in our sins and trespasses until God give us faith in Himself.” (Steve)

    Pauline language which I think is not literal in meaning – but symbolic in meaning. The fact is we are not ‘dead’ – we are very much alive with or without a faith committment to God – so Paul cannot be being ‘literal’ here. It seems to me he is speaking of how living in sinful conditions can lead us away from God and that’s the consequence of such actions.

    Faith, which is the turning from trust in just ourselves for answers to bigger life questions, is the pre-cursor to beginning a journey towards a more healthy lifestyle – for us and for our neighbor. Faith is a decision making process – a committment – to think God is the one who implants that at some point make little sense. I can remember being taught as a kid to have faith in God – and being able to grasp the idea and how it kinda worked. But it wasn’t until many years later that it all came together for me. Seems to me the mind is able to comprehend the idea of having ‘faith/trust’ from an early age (like we were born with this ability).

    “think as far as we are concerned, He just wants us to trust in Himself (faith).” (Steve)

    For what purpose and what end? I want people to love and respect me – but to what end? For me, the purpose of God is summed up by a teaching of Jesus from Torah ‘Love God and love your neighbor as yourself’ – or as Paul sums it up ‘love your neighbor as yourself’…without the faith in God part even attached (same with James).

    It seems to me, and this could just be simple observation, but God’s interests is humanity’s well being. The whole bible is based on the premise of God intervening in ‘human affiars’ – like His main concern is that human societies can function and treat one another justly and kindly. All the moral teachings are about how we treat each other more or less – very little is about how we worship God (although that also is in there). I think God’s core concern is we learn to treat one another kindly and with empathy – and in this connection we realize what kind of God exists.

  12. ““How does your faith inform your world”? It definately isnt the same for all people.”

    funny, i’ll be posting about this, this coming Tuesday (June 9th). i had to write about this for my doctrine class. check then, won’t you?

  13. Kids may not curse God, but there are studies that show kids are able to, and engage in deception (a form of lying) even before they can speak.

    Also, if you observe toddlers in a room with one toy, they will more often than not fight over it.

    We are “conceived in sin”, the Pslam says, and casual observation shows us that kids do not wish to live the way intended for us to live, before the fall into sin.

    Sure God wants us to get along with and love each other (which we will not do all that often), but He wants us to love and trust Him as well (which we will not do all that often)

  14. “We are “conceived in sin”, the Pslam says, and casual observation shows us that kids do not wish to live the way intended for us to live, before the fall into sin.” (Steve)

    So sin is being selfish? I can say kids, even babies, are selfish little buggers – they have to be taught to share and what have you. But at some point – this self discovery – is actually a ‘good’ thing and helps to save people from lives of disaster.

    But what is the ‘intended way to live’ exactly? Are we not to have any self-awareness? I would say without self-awareness we are likely to be sucked in by any and all hucksters and cults. Doubt, unbelieveingly, can be part of our saving grace also.

    But this all really comes down to your definition of sin. Is sin a condition we are born with – and if so – how would you define that condition? And is this condition neccesary for our survival on earth – so pieces of it can be concieved of as ‘helpful’?

    I would also say being ‘conceived in sin’ in that passage and being ‘born into sin’ are quite different also. That Psalm is about David confessing his sin of adultery with Bathsheba – which really has nothing to do with his birth…so for me it functions as an exaggeration of his condition – to place the emphasis on how bad this all really was.

    But maybe we are ‘born into sin’ – but if so – then are we not born doomed?

  15. “But what is the ‘intended way to live’ exactly?”

    Love God, and our neighbor as ourself.

    Sin isn’t necessary to our survival on earth. Our Father provides everything we need.

    It might be necessary in order to live as WE WANT to live.

    “That Psalm is about David confessing his sin of adultery with Bathsheba – which really has nothing to do with his birth…”

    I think it speaks to us all. We are all cut of the same cloth when it comes to our sinfulness. There are degrees of sinfulness (as far as we relate to each other), but as St. Paul says, “If you break one (Commandment), then you’ve broken them all.”

    I think it is more helpful to look at sin as our “condition”, rather to focus on individual sins anyway, when we are examining our righteousness or lack thereof.

    “But maybe we are ‘born into sin’ – but if so – then are we not born doomed?”

    If not for Jesus and His death on that cross and His forgiveness of our sin, then we would be doomed.

    That God would incarnate Himself as one of us and go through everything He did for our sakes, just goes to show how much He really does love us and cares for us.

  16. “If not for Jesus and His death on that cross and His forgiveness of our sin, then we would be doomed.” (Steve)

    And what about all the people prior to Jesus? Is his cross some grandfather clause that includes all previous people to his existence on earth? Also your answer is very vague – so kids are automatically saved – irregardless of not having to deal with their condition of sin?

  17. “And what about all the people prior to Jesus? Is his cross some grandfather clause that includes all previous people to his existence on earth?”

    God knows the hearts of everyone He has made. He’ll judge them according to His will.

    “– so kids are automatically saved – irregardless of not having to deal with their condition of sin?”

    We don’t believe that kids are automatically saved. That’s one of the reasons we baptize infants.

    But, if a child dies, God is merciful and we would pray that He would extend that mercy to the child. I actually pray that He would have mercy on everyone.

    Jesus will be our judge. It’s comforting to know that the One who died for us, will be the same One who will judge us.

  18. “God knows the hearts of everyone He has made. He’ll judge them according to His will.”

    So the people who lived and died before Jesus will be judged by their hearts, but the people who lived and died after Jesus will be judged by their beliefs? If so, how fortunate for the first group!

    Where does this split take place? If a person was still alive but died one day after Jesus’ supposed resurrection would he be judged by his heart or his belief in Jesus?

    Or is there perhaps a year or so overlap to give people time to hear about him so they could believe? I wonder what might then be considered a reasonable time frame….

    If a caveat exists, would it then apply to all people on earth who never got to hear this story about Jesus? They all get to be judged by their hearts rather than their beliefs?

    If so, would it make any difference? If everyone is sinful and doomed without Jesus, what good would it do them to be judged by their hearts?

    Wouldn’t Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, the prophets, everybody ever mentioned in Tanakh be doomed? Or were hearts better before Jesus than they were after Jesus so that these guys could pass the heart judge with flying colors?

  19. I think that human hearts are the same now as when God first created us.

    As a Christian, I believe what the New Testament says about Christ Jesus coming to pay for sin and to forgive us…all of us.

    No where in the Bible does it say that if someone does not believe in Jesus they are going to hell.

    What the New Testament says is that Jesus will decide. Will He be merciful to those who did not trust in Him, believe in Him? I hope so, but that will be Jesus’ call.

    St. Paul speaks of a time when Christ will open the ‘belief receptors of the Jews and He will bring them in also.

    Gentiles or pagans who have never heard of or trusted in Jesus will be judged by another criterion.

    That’s what I have been taught, and as a Christian, it makes sense to me.

  20. I could be a secular humanist and not believe in anything other than the here and now. Or I could be a universalist, which is akin to believing in nothing.

    But, being a Christian, I choose to believe what the New Testament tells me.

    By the way, TfT, I think it is sooo much easier to not take a stand at all. 😀

  21. Why the need to take a stand at all? Isnt it more Christ like to just love and share and care and tend to each other. Rather than think you are a miserable sinner in need of redemption. But, whatever floats your boat man, who am I to think otherwise. I just think in the grand scheme of things, Im ok, and so are you. I dont need a book to tell me different.

  22. TfT,

    ” Repent and believe.”

    That first part is important too…otherwise we don’t need Him. He said He came for the sick, that the healthy don’t need Him.

    As we go, I’m ok, you’re ok is great. But in the grand scheme of a perfectly righteous God who demands that His realm not be tarnished with anything or anyone that is less than totally spotless…we need a Savior.

  23. How nice for us Jews. Jesus is going to open our belief receptors which are obviously now closed so we can join the party. What a joke.

  24. So, here’s a question no one has yet answered for me, if God cannot be next to even one tiny speck of imperfection, and if Jesus is God as some Christians claim, how come Jesus could be next to imperfection? And if Jesus is God, yet was able to be next to imperfection, how can anyone claim God can’t be next to anything less than perfection? If Jesus is God, then obviously God was next to sinners quite a bit and not bothered by that in the least. God met with Moses even though Moses wasn’t sinless. God met with Abraham and he wasn’t sinless either.

    So, is this another one of those unexplained changes? At one time God could by next to us regular human beings but now all of the sudden God cannot?

    It seems to me that everyone was better off before the supposed arrival of Jesus. They could be judged for their hearts and considered blameless like David even if they committed adultery and had someone murdered, just by asking God for forgiveness And God could come visit with them right where they were, sinners or not.

    Hey, that’s the way us closed belief receptor types still live…..thank goodness.

    John,
    I don’t need a book either. Ridiculous to think any of us would want anything to do with a god who would have to be coaxed to not condemn the soul of an unbaptised baby that had died before it barely had time to live! Ridiculous to think any of us would want anything to do with a god who changed all the rules along the way so that 3000 years after you lived you would be judged according to the teachings of a book that didn’t even exist when you lived!

  25. Have a nice life!(Steve)

    Actually I am, and I think I can speak for Yael too. She seems to be making it quite nicely without Jesus. I know your belief is important to how you inform your life, but it would be nice if you acknowledged the fact that it is just a belief. You have no more evidence for what you believe than the rest of us. Its also easier to poke holes in how you read the Bible as evidenced by the other 33,000 interpretations by so called Christians. Hey, if youre still a miserable sinner why dont you come up to Canada and take me out for some pints. Maybe we can get you to relax a little and De convert.
    Im sure you would no longer be miserable, just a sinner. 😉

  26. TfT,

    😀

    You are absolutely right. I haven’t a shred of evidence. But I still believe it.

    Sometimes we just have to disagree. BTW, I love Canada! Maybe one day I can come up there and unwind a bit with you over a few pints!

    I’d better do it before they start building the wall to keep us in!

  27. “God who demands that His realm not be tarnished with anything or anyone that is less than totally spotless…we need a Savior.”

    yikes! who is this male, OCD god and why then would he set up quantum entanglement, cause that is MESSY! have you looked at ecosystems? that’s a messy web of interconnectivity, accident, mutation, death and violence. i don’t think my God calls for such an existence, since for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction and that leads to some messiness because we humans are limited in our view and our actions have very unintended consquences.

    i do think we need a savior, a savior for this idea of perfection!

  28. God is perfect. You gotta problem wit dat?!

    We (the entire creation ) are fallen.

    I never thought these basic themes in scripture would garner so much derision.

  29. God creates a fallen creation… doesn’t sound to perfect to me then. basic logic. 😉

    that’s my beef with my tradition is this idea of a perfect “garden state. “i think it is actually how it’s supposed to be and we try to make it into some static place without suffering. suffering is a part of it, challenge is what makes us grow beyond ourselves. find peace amid the chaos, that’s the trick. Jesus got mad and angry, whithering a fig tree, driving pigs into the sea, clearing the temple, and crying out in the garden, all of these are very human, very imperfect reactions, but largely, dude was see’n the bigger picture and meeting people where they are. that’s pretty tight.

  30. oh.. and no problem with God being perfect, i do have a problem with expecting humans to be. just watch Les Miserables to see the difference. one dude lived a perfect and just life but wasn’t meriful at all beause that’s how the law was. other dude was a sinner, redeemed, and lived a life full of mercy which was far from perfect. which of these two had the better life? which one lived a life closer to Christ?

  31. “basic logic ought tell you it wasn’t created that way) ” haha!

    well, i don’t buy into the garden account, i buy into the theory of evolution. the world is as intended but we go against that intention willingly. industrialization, individualism, and urbanization; we’re seeing the limits of these, largely global warming, feelings of depression and isolation, and traffic jams and such which lead to symptoms 1 and 2 and keep the viscious circle going.

    we can break out of this cycle. live for others, seek justice, feed the hungry and heal the sick. that’s the message of the prophets and of Christ.

  32. “one dude lived a perfect and just life but wasn’t meriful at all beause that’s how the law was.”

    Then he wasn’t perfect.

    No one can be perfect except God. He makes us perfect and acceptable before Him through the blood of Christ.

    No one will be made righteous or perfect through what they do (woks of the law)

    Christianity 101

  33. “No one will be made righteous or perfect through what they do (woks of the law)”

    actually that’s protestantism 101, the orthodox don’t have that.

    ““one dude lived a perfect and just life but wasn’t meriful at all beause that’s how the law was.””

    “Blessed are they whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the LORD” -Psalm 119:9. so the dude might not have been perfect, but he was blameless… and joyless. watch the movie, i think you’d get a lot out of it, if you haven’t already.

  34. No one can be perfect except God. He makes us perfect and acceptable before Him through the blood of Christ.(Steve)

    A HA, G-d does it. Not me. Hmmm then why bother believing if its “his” job to do it? Just doesnt make any sense. Adam, f…s it up for me, G-d makes it better for me. BUT if I dont believe in that system, I get screwed down to hell. Wow, now thats a pretty Loving entity. No offence, but this shit is priceless. I think I need that beer now. 😦

  35. And this is what makes faith priceless – lol.

    But here is where the logic gets sticky. Steve just said a kid has to be baptized to be saved – and if not – we pray God has mercy on that child….does anyone here believe a single child would get sent to hell for not being baptized – but paying the price for simply being born? Love to see the funeral where they admit to this (lol).

    But if a baby can find mercy without any semblance of belief – then there is a loophole in that logic…that kid needed absolutely nothing to be saved (correct?). At what point does God pull the curtain back and say ‘now you are responsible for your actions?’. If there is such a thing – I am sure it has nothing to do with being a child and under parental supervision – that kid really has little choice in his/her matters in this life. How can God be so vile to tell a child – you are responsible for being born? Like they had something to do with that.

    To me, it makes little logical sense that God would judge us according to our births. What makes more sense – and is based on basic human judgment (which cannot be higher than God’s way of thinking) – is to judge someone on the basis of what they do with what they were given. Can’t judge someone born into Islam in Iran the same as someone born in Canada with a silver spoon in their mouth – IMO. Or for that matter the kids from slumdog with kids from Beverly Hills. None of that makes sense to put them on the same scale – when they weren’t born into the same conditions.

    Judgment changes as per situation. For example, the people in the movie ‘Alive’ committed an act of cannibalism to save their very lives (to survive). Now if this same scene played out in some local graveyard for no apparent good reason – I doubt we would have the same amount of mercy. Just showing judgment changes per situation.

    And this brings me back to children. How can we so much as pretend to judge a child an adult (ie: in decision making skills)? I am yet to see a 10 year old tried for the same sentence on an offence an adult also committs (ie: stealing or shooting a gun at someone). The intent is way different – and isn’t intent everything in judgment?

    I think it’s easy to say ‘everyone is subject to the same sentence in judgment’ – but in reality that makes no logical sense. So with babies, even if they were born into something like ‘original sin’ – I just cannot see how they are reserved in the same judgment as someone 60 years old (who lived a full life and made conscience decisions). And I would also throw in where someone was born and the scenarios they have to face (ie: suburbs vs. being born in a ghetto).

  36. “BUT if I dont believe in that system, I get screwed down to hell. ”

    and there’s the logical conflict in this system. believe that “For God so loved the world that God sent God’s son” OR BURN!!! but to believe you must have “faith like a child” which largely means “don’t question or doubt.” yet children ask more questions than anybody i’ve been around…. ummmm…

    this system isn’t very realistic.

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