Saturday, March 14, 2020

Hopeful Thinking - Saturday, March 14, 2020 - Blind Faith is Easier

At what point do you suppose someone first pointed out the notion of “blind faith?” It is my assumption that the term was a critique. But I could be wrong.

Of course, there are passages in the Bible which people have attributed as exhortations to blindly obey all of God’s commands, such as Abraham did when commanded to kill his child, Isaac. But Abraham's faith wasn’t blind, it was complete. It was based on a track record of experiences between himself and God. For Abraham had already been made certain promises by God that the death of his son would prevent. So he may have gone through the motions of preparing to strike down his son, but he clearly didn’t believe that would be the end of it for Isaac. Abraham's faith wasn’t blind, only winking.

There are many places in scripture which are in support the ideas of wisdom, discernment, debate, and deep questioning. Even Paul complements his followers for doing their homework on him. So it can’t be that we are supposed to question nothing.

But today we have found ourselves in a paradigm where a highly vocal portion of the Christian community claims—blindly, if I may—that every word printed in the Bible is straight from the mouth, heart and mind of God.

That creates a problem.

Because any nominal amount of objective biblical scholarship will eventually point only to the complete fallibility of the Bible to be in coherence with itself. It contradicts itself on so many levels that it would be preferable to think of each book in the Bible as a sibling in a large family rather than a unified voice. The individual books can be in communication with each other, even related, but they are not saying the same thing. And often they quarrel.

Even Jesus contradicts the Old Testament in several ways including his update from the old legalistic judicial method of “eye for an eye” to the more prudent and community-building activity of “turning the other cheek.” Jesus says that there are things in the Old Testament which are now wrong. For those who claim to be Christian, are you paying attention?

I know there are many talented debaters out there speaking on behalf of the infallibility of scripture. They make lots of interesting points, but ultimately fail because their originating premise is flawed. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that it is the unadulterated word of God. Since that is their only source material, there is no data to back up the claim. The infallibility of scripture is built on a foundation of sand. Which is perhaps exactly how God wants it.

So why do people cling to blind faith like this so steadfastly?  Frankly, because it’s easier. And many need it.

Increasingly, over the last 70 years or so, life has become very complicated. During these seven decades in particular we have systematically uprooted our entire human civilization as compared to the model which existed before. All the rules have changed. It’s not a very long time by evolutionary standards. We lose sight of that fact which only enhances our terror of the change we see. It feels devastating because it is.

When all seems in turmoil we look for solid guidance. We look for reassurance. We attempt to newly comprehend the old prophecies and make sense of them. We seek more convenient truths to supplant the inconvenient ones. The greater our anxiety, the more we need things to be solid and concrete and true and undeniable.

We are existing in a time of existential crisis regarding our faith and the understanding of why we are here. As we fear the world around us we look to God to “humansplain” things to us and tell us that everything will be OK. We ask God to give us a nice clear checklist that we can follow so we know we won’t get it wrong. For some, this is not a time for guessing, but certitude. Interpretation feels too unsafe to broach.

But there are no facts to be had, sadly. It may be easier for you to find a way to justify it in your heart that we should just shut up and do as we’re told by whomever appears to be the most certain. But it is not better.

Empathize with and pray for those who so desperately need to believe that all of our questions have already been answered. They are seeking certainty in the face of an uncertain time and their fear is tangible. They are seeking ease. As do we all. Pray that they get some. Their ease may ultimately contribute to your own.

Attempt to be comfortable with the shifting ground beneath your feet. It will continue to do so for the rest of your lifetime and the lifetimes of your children and grandchildren. This shift is not anywhere near over. Put your focus on your resilience and adaptability. Remember during times such as these that it is our love which sustains and guide our actions. Sometimes that love is expressed as fear of loss or change. Fix that. Change has and will occur. Your love will not prevent it.

Love never prevents change. It’s job is only to guide us through it. Remember that when asking why God would make or let us suffer. I don’t believe God’s doing that. I don’t think it’s God's job to make us suffer or prevent us from suffering. Especially when that suffering is so often of our own making. God‘s job is to be the love which sustains us through challenging times. And through hints and whispers, we are given tidbits of insight as to how to proceed next using fearless Love as our guide.

Perhaps that’s too fanciful for you. I don’t blame you. It’s smacks of the very blind faith I'm cautioning against. So perhaps that’s where blind faith belongs: In the existence and continuation of love and benevolence as the only substance in the universe. Put your faith in that, even if a bit blindly. Stake your claim on the certainty of love and that will become your experience.

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