The Reality of Faith

This is the third in a series of Alpha lectures, titled “How can we have Faith?”

I wrote about faith in a recent blog entitled “Faith and Contemporary Society”, but I think it serves a purpose to make some additional comment on the matter. First off, let’s remind ourselves of the premise of the last article:

Faith is described as a relationship of trust and confidence in someone or something, in most instances without proof – but is this the right way to approach faith – without any form of reasoned contemplation? [1]

Jesus Appears to Thomas

25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”

But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

This is the reality of the modern world, ‘seeing is believing’; yet I am not unsettled by this statement and don’t find this reality to be that contrary to my Christian ideals! Before I am accused of heresy and all other kinds of impeachable treachery, I am not advocating an on-boarding of modernist idealisms. No, I am saying that faith without foundation is wishful thinking. Thomas had no grounds for accepting the outrageous suggestion of his fellow apostles, unless he saw the Lord for himself. When he did, he immediately recognised the divine kingship of Jesus and addressed him accordingly!

Then Jesus said to Thomas:

29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

To paraphrase my last blog on the subject, do not mistake Jesus’ observation of Thomas as a rebuke and an approbation of blind, unquestioning faith but rather illustrative of the difference between the need for sensory proof and faith supported by reasoned deduction. So it should be with us – though sensory proof will one day be ours for we too will be with Jesus.

John says: And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.[2] To me, faith is all about seeking the truth; it is as though it is an in-built imperative in human nature!

Proverbs underscores this thought on faith: I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me.[3]

God wants us to know about Him, to know the truth but you can only know the truth by studying the facts and making a reasoned judgement – that’s faith! Paul’s letter to the Hebrews provides the following explication on the Reality of Faith:

6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.[4]

But, as with the grace of salvation and in accordance with the freedom accorded His creation, man must ask, must invite God into his life.

20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.[5]

Nicky Gumbel’s use of that well-known painting by Holman Hunt – The Light of the World is perhaps most illustrative of the essence of faith and grace.[6] ‘There is no handle…’ goes the famous criticism, to which Hunt replies ‘… that is deliberate, there is only one handle and that is on the inside.’ The allegory being that only the owner of that door (the door to his life) can open it and let the visitor (Jesus) in.

7 Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.[7]

This verse sums up what faith is all about – search, seek, find….

Faith is not about blindly accepting dogma, it is about working toward the glory of God – forever looking, forever searching, forever knocking in a quest to find the truth. That quest does not have to be academic or philosophical, it is your quest, your search to find the truth and it is the truth which gives intellectual assent to that faith!

Bibliography

1. Sturges, A. J. (2013, May 18). Faith and Contemporary Society. Retrieved August 19, 2013, from Defensio Credam: https://tonysturges.wordpress.com/2013/05/18/faith-and-contemporary-society/

2. Gumbel, N. (2010). Questions of Life (New ed.). London, United Kingdom: Alpha International.


[1] (Sturges, 2013)

[2] John 8:32

[3] Proverbs 8:17

[4] Hebrews 11:6

[5] Revelation 3:20

[6] (Gumbel, 2010, p. 56)

[7] Matthew 7:8-9

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About Anthony

I am a married Catholic who is interested in Theology, History, Philosophy and the search for truth. I also have a penchant for photography.
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