Sunday, January 04, 2009

Blogging Towards Sunday, January 4, 2009
The Vocabulary of Faith
Keirkegaard's Leap of Faith

Hebrews 11:1-3
whole chapter]
Matthew 17:20 & John 8:31-32

Today I'm beginning a new series at the church I serve entitled "The Vocabulary of Faith." Members and friends of our church community have suggested words and/or phrases about faith or from scripture that are problematic, confusing or complicated. I'm then trying to teach upon them and flesh out what they might mean for us today as followers of Jesus in our 2009 East Bay context.

Today's vocabulary phrase is "
Leap of faith" or "faith as a leap" coming Soren Kierkegaard. He's talking not just about believing, but about knowing what we believe to be true in an existential and epistimological way. Basically everything is subjective - all knowledge is personal. You can't prove that any one thing, or one way of thinking, is universally and objectively TRUE. He's one of our early post-moderns, debunking (not faith) but rather the scientific model which claims tha there is a pure, objective, scientifically obtainable TRUTH somewhere out there that we can get to through reason and logic. Kierkegaard says that actually all knowledge involves some sort of relationship. We believe, we base our actions upon the beliefs that we choose. This leads to modern pragmatism. Yet it doesn't mean that our belief(s) are wrong. Rather it frees us to recognize that proving belief isn't what it's about, rather it's all about how our belief(s) shapes our actions, orients our life, gives breath to our relationships and existential commitments.

Here's a great quote:

Faith begins where one knows and has experienced the limitations of rational thought. Therefore, it is a leap into a paradox: I know by not knowing; I believe because I cannot know - but due to this unknowing, I have established a direct and unspeakable relationship with that which is beyond thinking, but which leads me in the relationship.
- Kierkegaard.

Most of our past modernistic thought has been based either upon logic: trying to prove it as true, or a anti-modernist fear/rejection of logic: nothing needs to be proved. A leap of faith, for Kierkegaard is neither about denying the scientific "facts" nor trusting only in tradition, it's about recognizing that knowledge is relational, that belief is beyond proof (which isn't even really the point).
I think most of us have been screwed up by Blaise Pascal's Wager, which basically says "hedge your bets" - it's better to believe and be wrong than not believe and be wrong. It's all about a quid pro quo, getting what we want and what we esteem we deserve, as opposed to living fully.

That's what those 3 scriptures I choose point to: making deep, life-sustaining and transforming meaning of the life we live: our actions, our words, our relationships, our community, our commitments. It's about praxis: how we live and why we live that way, rooted in a foundation of faith. For me that's about following Jesus - freedom that comes from a relationship, a truth that's more relational/existential knowledge than scientific certainty, more about praxis and purpose than proof.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade has an interesting scene about faith as a step that's often referred to.

It's an interesting way - Jones, a scientist, can't prove things, figure it out, or quantify it - in the end knowledge, and his pursuit of it, has to come from a relational vortex, based first and foremost in trust and moving towards deeper trust. Isn't that what relationship (between us and God, or between us and others) is all about? I think our culture has basically handicapped us by teaching us that knowledge is quanitfiable, proovable and knowable with our minds, as opposed to something we experience in relationship, existence and meaning-making actions.

LISTEN TO THE SERMON HERE - scroll down on ther right side until you see "listen to Monte's sermons here"

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