Thursday, November 15, 2007

Studying faith


A week ago, I'd encountered a long pondered faith-related question in my readings of Lee Strobel's "The Case for Faith: A journalist investigates the toughest objections to Christianity." Check that MySpace blog posting here. Essentially, the point was whether the Bible, a main source of info for Christians, is really a trustworthy book. Unfortunately, my appetite for an answer wasn't completely satisfied. In the 15-pages on this question, it comes down to one scholar saying that "Like Christ, the Bible is totally human, yet without error." It talks about how the Bible wasn't dictated, it's a story told by people who witnessed and went through those times. Fine. But, you know, as we recount stories in our own lives and retell them, and again and again, sometimes we misconstrue or misinterpret something, or take it out of context. The explanations that all the Gospels and other Bible tales are so similar and therefore error-free, just don't jive completely. But, in my overall reading so far, and my own life experiences and changing views, my faith is strengthening despite the lack of faith in that particular point.

Tonight, a later chapter provides more intriguing mental exercise. Focusing on offensiveness of claims that Jesus is the only way to God, we get into morality, accepting Christ, and the overall issue of earning a spot in Heaven. The pages delve into that bigger picture, that what we do here on Earth really doesn't matter all that much; it's the afterlife we're preparing for. Psalm - 23:3-4 notes that Redemption, Righteousness, Worship is the sequence and it can't be violated. A quote: "Because we are moral human beings, we want to see equity. But when we reduce equality to issues of who behaved in what way during a given span of time, we miss the whole concept of equity. We are judging this from the point of view of our system."

Interesting. One comparison in the book is that an infant can't understand a mother, except that there's someone nurturing and caring for them. That relationship changes and grows to more respect, understanding as the child grows into adulthood. Same concept. Maybe we can't see what that bigger picture is quite yet, but someday, whether it's on this planet and in this life or not, we will. Makes you reflect on the whole point of life and what you do each day.

However, I can't totally embrace the concept that you must embrace God and only that matters. There must be more. The book doesn't expand on the rest of the RR&W point, but it fits that Righteousness plays just as much a part in getting to that heavenly spot as the other two. Just because you accept and pray to Him, doesn't mean you're on the way up. It's about living, too.

Some so-called Christians don't seem to get this point - they don't practice what they preach (no cliche intended). It's about tolerance. It's about being a good person. Neighborly. Morally and ethically sound. Some point to the Bible and criticize those who don't believe what they do, but in doing so become mean and cold-hearted that seems to make them seem hypocrits. Of course, my disclaimer is that I know more who balance all the aspects of that RR&W thought.

Exploring the aspect of why it's so darn tough to accept Christ, Strobel gets to an interesting point that compares other religions. Others can be good without having to admit there's God, can do what they please or banter philisophically about treating the earth well without actively practicing their faith. To quote on why not Christ: "He calls you to die to yourself. Any time truth involves a total commitment in which you bring yourself to complete humility, to the surrender of the will, you will always have resistence. Christ violates our power and autonomy. He challenges us in areas of purity."

Good reasons. Who wants to give themselves up? Their free wills? Their desires? Makes a good point. I think there's a higher power who's calling the shots, but at the same time that He or She gave us free will for a reason. It's supposed to be a journey. We're supposed to grow. In the end, guess it falls to that grand idea of doing something for the greater good. We need to have faith in that, whether or not we believe in every technical aspect of a written story or philosophy. There's a higher power who knows what's going on, and by trusting in that, we can come out as all is supposed to be. That's the definition of faith, and as I grow older and also study this topic more in-depth, it's becoming more clear that I've got some. We'll see where we go from here.

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