Sunday, 5 February 2012

Faith and Belief

Some would say that  faith is the same as belief.  But that’s a mistake.  It’s a mistake the church has made, along with other religions.  It led to a situation where belief became a test of faith; and there were dire consequences for those who failed the test by not believing the right things.  They were subjected to the cruellest torture, and then consigned to eternal damnation if they didn’t change their minds.
This conflation of faith and belief has caused religious chaos across the whole world.  It resulted in pogroms, crusades and many forms of religious extremism, including the latest manifestation of suicide bombers.
So faith needs to be seen as much more than just belief.  Belief is an intellectual activity of the mind: faith is a commitment of the heart.  Faith is better understood in terms of TRUST; and so there will always be an element of risk about it, rather than certainty.

If you have faith in someone, you don’t just believe in their existence, you trust them.  You trust that they will be true to themselves, and live up to the highest claims their own conscience makes upon them.
Faith is a creative energy or power.  It creates relationships.  First of all, it invites you into a relationship with yourself (or rather with your Better Self).  Faith will encourage you to believe in yourself and trust yourself; and even to love yourself, because love is the highest form of this relationship.
Having found a healthy and wholesome relationship with yourself, you will then want to reach out to include others: and this will eventually lead you into the experience of being embraced by the love of the universal Other, that we call God.

Faith is not saying that you believe in the existence of someone called God (as if that would make any difference!).  Nor is it saying that you believe in any so-called ‘statements of faith’.
Faith is not a statement: it’s a commitment – trusting that in spite of all, life has meaning and purpose.  Faith means taking a risk, and living in the light of it; loving yourself and loving others; and as a result, experiencing the love of God who, it seems, is also trusting us to be true to ourselves.                                                                                                   

1 comment:

  1. My favourite quote about faith is this:

    "Faith is a state of openness or trust. To have faith is to trust yourself to the water. When you swim you don't grab hold of the water, because if you do you will sink and drown. Instead you relax, and float. And the attitude of faith is the very opposite of clinging to belief, of holding on. In other words, a person who is fanatic in matters of religion, and clings to certain ideas about the nature of God and the universe, becomes a person who has no faith at all. Instead they are holding tight. But the attitude of faith is to let go, and become open to truth, whatever it might turn out to be."

    —  Alan Watts