Faith-full (Part 1)

MallA

Let’s be honest… we have a “faith” problem. And it doesn’t just apply to Christians.

When I originally began writing this post, I intended to primarily address misconceptions only. What was initially just a refutation of the misuse of a word turned into a lengthy personal study, which I frustratingly embarked upon because I kept uncovering fallacies in my own understanding. Consequently, I have a much more robust picture of the concept of “faith”, and how its integration with life relies so heavily on proper context. And in an effort to effectively communicate that which God placed on my heart, I’m breaking this topic into two posts. My hope in addressing this is two-fold, and applies to Christians & Non-Christians alike:

  1. For those who do not place their “faith” in Christ… my aim is to properly define and clarify the concept, while simultaneously giving an authentic understanding of its use. I fear that many of you have been sold a rotten bag of goods, and it may have even caused you to turn away from or further distance yourself from Christ.
  2. For those who consider themselves “Christ followers”… my aim is similar, but somewhat more nuanced in that we have done a massive disservice to ourselves and those we engage with on a regular basis, through our mischaracterization and improper use of the term. In many ways, we have become careless, and it has resulted in misrepresented dichotomies and arguments pushed on a popular level. And to further the damage, we are now trying to defend Christianity against these false claims (e.g. FAITH VERSUS REASON), as opposed to addressing central tenants of “faith”.

I suppose I wouldn’t feel such a need to address the word if it wasn’t lobbed into conversation so flippantly in attempts to demonstrate that no “intelligent” person needs it. The hidden assumption is that we’ve somehow progressed far beyond its necessity. The popular view today leaves faith solely as a crutch that must be leaned on when perception doesn’t align with reality. Yet, only by redefining the term can we come to that conclusion.

If this were only a case of semantics, I wouldn’t be addressing the notion so explicitly. The implications of redefining and then reapplying faith in a new context have completely mischaracterized its place in the realm of Christianity. And consequently, a countless number of people have turned their backs on Christ based on a purposefully or accidentally misrepresented notion of its intent. It is heart wrenching and, ironically, a perfect example of intellectual dishonesty or apathy… neither of which is a particularly esteemed label.

This isn’t one of those situations where the Christian can be pinned with irrationality, while the non-Christian sits in an ivory tower of “reason.” Putting forth a false juxtaposition does nothing to actually further the conversation and is blatantly disingenuous. But honestly… should we really be surprised nowadays? As with many things in life, knowing and understanding context turns out to be somewhat important. So… can we stop, just for a moment, to consider the proper and intended concept of “faith”?

To do so requires considering a few things, which I’ll attempt to address more fully in the next post.

  1. Faith as it is understood in popular society today, is NOT in line with the context of scripture or the time period in which it was written.
  2. There is no war between faith & reason.
  3. For the Christ follower, faith is NOT incompatible with apologetics (especially in light of #1)

If we don’t first understand the first point, nothing I write afterward will make much sense. Faith is a term absolutely loaded with theological significance. So maybe if we work our way from the outside in, we will be able to see the relevance in maintaining a proper definition and understanding when applying it in our lives, or conversing about it with others.

Until then… what do you think?  Have you had experiences of your “faith” being described as a crutch?  Maybe you do believe this is truly the case.  Maybe you believe that no “reasonable” person can genuinely be a Christian.  Or maybe you’re a Christian who believes having justifiable reasons for belief departs from true “faith.”  All are misguided, and all will be addressed in Part 2!  Leave a reply below and be on the lookout for the follow-up post!

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