Sunday, February 21, 2010

Faith V: Quest, Question, and Beer.

"I believe in our innate capacity to believe; no other species seems to have this capacity." I could also write this sentence in another way to mean exactly the same thing: "I have faith in our innate capacity to believe; no other species seems to have this capacity." How are these two sentences synonymous?

I said in the last post that the words faith and believe are inexorably linked and this is how: faith is a noun form, and believe is a verb form of the same experience. So- do you believe your trip to the store will succeed? Of course- you wouldn't even get into the car if you didn't- you're an intelligent person after all. But watch this- I can write the exact same question which will only be different in aesthetics: "Do you have faith that your trip to the store will succeed?" (and then go on to state my belief in your intelligence).... At this point, you can see that this question of my belief- a past predicate, my believing- a gerund, and my faith- a noun, in the intelligence of you the reader, hinges on whether the proposition of you the reader being intelligent, is a credible one or not. (Believe me, the reality that you're intelligent is credible indeed! So I have faith in you.)

This inexorable link of faith and believe is seen more apparently when you begin with the original Greek words, which we translate into the modern words faith and believe: Pistis and Pistewo. When ever you are reading through a New Testament Text, and you come across our word faith, you are reading the underlying Greek noun, Pistis. And when you come across our word believe, you are reading the underlying Greek verb, Pistewo. At the heart of this word group, is living into, and I would add- living into through question.

No other species, I believe, is forced into living by question. The Canada goose certainly lives it's life through a quest, but these are quests of biology and environment; its satisfaction depends on its body remaining warm while gliding along November ponds and blithely dunking its head for bits. (You could probably sum up the life of our goose by Thermodynamics.)

To live through question is entirely different than living through quest. In fact, you could say that understanding such difference is imperative to understanding Human Being. The mundane task of driving to the store begins as a quest for something like beer, but is innately involved in question and faith. (I'm purposely talking about faith in such a mundane scale because, unless we can get a felt sense of it here at this scale, we won't be able interact with faith at ultimate scales without getting unwieldy).

So looking at faith in this mundane scale of a quest for beer, what are we to consider of it?

Well, faith is about living into; and because this happens through question besides biological quest, the idea of completing your beer run has to be credible to you. Faith requires credibility.
But, even though, completing a beer run may be sufficiently credible, until you actually get in the car and go, your faith will not be energized. Faith requires coherent action.

A crisis of faith is a symptom and not a cause: to try to whip up more faith is to only address symptoms. The underlying cause comes from needing to live into a world by way of question and not having a credible "vehicle" in which to make that trip: A person who feels their suffering as a lack of faith, is encountering an issue of credibility.

The question often posed in our context is, "whats the relationship of faith to reason?" as if they are two separate pathways, one being inferior. I hope you're beginning to see that reason is involved in faith but exists as a whole other genus or kind etc.; while you're driving the car you better be using the full faculty of reason. But it's faith that gets you into the car and onto the road with all the other cars, so you can fulfill your quest for some cold ones.

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