I almost feel like one of those theologians you read about from days gone by. It’s like I belong to a burgeoning group the likes Lewis, Tolkien, Williams and Barfield, but that may be giving us way too much credit. All the same some of my friends in ministry and the like have begun to meet weekly and although we call it a book study we rarely stay on topic. Instead we end up delving into the depths of Christian thought and philosophy (at least as far as our capacities will take us) and have many conversations that shake us all to the core to help us answer some of the really tough questions of the faith. And that is what it always seems to come around to…faith.
A lot of us sitting around the table have been trained in some realm of postmodern philosophy.* The dominant philosophy of the postmodern era is built around a school known as deconstruction and was developed by Jaques Derrida. In deconstruction you question the presuppositions behind a particular belief statement until you are left with almost nothing…or in some cases nothing. And for the Christian tradition everything ultimately gets boiled down to one thing: faith. You see without faith we have nothing. That’s the beauty and the terror of our tradition. At the end of the day we can prove nothing upon which we stake everything (although experience often tells us differently through the power of the Holy Spirit :)). Hebrews 11:1 puts it this way, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Even the words in Greek hint at how instrumental this pivotal juncture in our belief system is. The word for confidence is hypostasis which is best translated as a foundation built up. And the word for assurance iselegchos which is best translated as conviction. S0 are entire way of living is built upon our conviction of what we cannot see becoming truth.
I think sometimes the best way to figure out what things are really supposed to look like is to watch children. After all, Jesus did say, “ And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3). Have you ever watched a child in true imaginative play? I mean when they really engage their imagination? All of a sudden there is no other reality other than the world of their play. They could be in a mall, a church foyer, a family get together, it really doesn’t matter where, you will not disrupt their new universe. And my favorite part is when you are asked to join in. All of a sudden you get this amazing invitation to lose yourself for a moment in a new world with limitless possibilities. Hmmm…maybe that is what the call to faith truly is. We are invited to lose our lives in a reality that may not make sense to those around us, but really is the only true reality. We can’t see it; we can’t prove it…it’s faith. But we are convinced and assured that this is the only real way to live and we live out this imaginative reality known as the kingdom of God assured that it is here and yet still to come.
May you find a new way to live out true faith in the midst of a world that thinks of you as holding on to nothing but child-like beliefs.
* I assure you that postmodern philosophy in and of itself is not a bad thing. In fact it really is just a new spin on old ways of thinking that even date back to the time of Christ.