Stuff In My Head (3)

In corresponding with a reader regarding my most previoust post, we began to discuss “faith”. I wrote:

Faith doesn’t equal certainty. Doubts do not equal lack of faith. Truth is found as you continually seek.

I know I talk a lot about this but these type of conversations fascinate me.

21 thoughts on “Stuff In My Head (3)”

  1. I wanted to give you a shout out and let you know I featured your Blogtiquette on my site today. You brought up some great issues.

  2. societyvs – We’d have to agree to disagree here. Your understanding of Jesus is fundamentally and extremely different from the core of Christian belief.I’m not sure, but I think you already understand the Christian position concerning trinity (God in three persons). Trinity is just a way to explain the nature of God’s being (if that is possible) as He has been revealed to humanity.So, no, there aren’t 2 gods or 3 gods, just one God revealed in three persons (however, only one with flesh, Jesus Christ).But, surely, you must already know this and just disagree with it.

  3. <>[God’s] name is Jesus.<>That’s only one of his names, though. 😉Those statements, IMO, are certainty only because it’s what you believe to be true; and the only reason you believe is because…<>because to you has been given, as regards Christ, <>not only the believing on him<> but the suffering for him also,<> (Philippians 1:29, Darby Translation)<>For I say, through the grace which has been given to me, to every one that is among you, not to have high thoughts above what he should think; but to think so as to be wise, <>as God has dealt to each a measure of faith.<><> (Romans 12:3, DT)Using this logic–and other verses in the Bible for backup and reference–God is also responsible for <>unbelief<>! (Matthew 13:11; 11:25; Luke 19:42; Romans 11:8,32; 9:18; Isaiah 29:10)Another interesting note…I looked up “faith” in Strong’s. The predominant entry, for the NT, is #4102–the Greek word “pistis”…which means “assurance”, “belief”, “fidelity”. One of the definitions of fidelity is “adherence to fact or detail”; another one is “loyalty”.

  4. I understand what you’re saying, Society; however, I have to disagree.Jesus said in the Gospels that “I and my Father (God) are one”, and “If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the (my) Father.” To me, that means Jesus = God incarnate; they’re, for all practical purposes, one and the same. It’s true that those of us on Earth now haven’t seen either/or in the flesh; but the disciples and those Jesus ministered to while he was on Earth <>have seen both<>.For an OT reference, in Isaiah, it says, “He (Jesus) shall be called ‘Emmanuel’–which means <>‘God with us’<>.” Or, if you will, “God incarnate”.

  5. More on the relationship between certainty and faith at < HREF="http://asbojesus.wordpress.com/2008/05/23/473/" REL="nofollow">ASBO Jesus<>.

  6. lowendaction – simple answer, certainty based on faith. Most Christians believe that God is and are certain of it. They are certain because of many reasons (changed lives, spiritual encounters, answered prayers, provision, etc.) that all boil down to willful belief. If I could not be certain that God exists, I would not preach it with all my heart. I would not have passion for God. I would not teach about God with conviction.I would be leveled to sharing what “might” be true and no one would really care, because that is only religion. Most people want to discover and live in reality.

  7. “God loves me” (Jim Bob)How can you be so sure ‘God loves you’? Based on what?Now this is something I have been thinking about the past few days – for no good reason except it intrigues me. Humanity is fallen and sinful…correct? God despises sin? Maybe it’s just me, but what is it about us that God loves?“His name is Jesus” (Jim Bob)In this sentence you are certain Jesus = God. This is rather disputable, to say the least, and I used to think I was certain about the answer to the question ‘is Jesus God?”. But it makes no sense – then God is 2 personalities = 2 gods. Then humanity has both seen and heard God – face to face – which is weird since ‘God is a Spirit’ (even according to Jesus). Conundrums abound on the topic. “There is no other name given among men by which we must be saved” (Jim Bob)Explain the concept behind this sentence. I know it comes from one of Paul’s letters (Philippians?). If it is being used an exclusive claim – what does it mean (in the context of the letter it is in)?Just asking questions because that’s what I do.

  8. “I understand what you’re saying, Society; however, I have to disagree.” (Shelly)That’s cool – most every Christian does disagree with this theology. I am okay with that – but I will provide a rebuttal anyways. “Jesus said in the Gospels that “I and my Father (God) are one”, and “If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the (my) Father.” To me, that means Jesus = God incarnate” (Shelly)I would say if Jesus is God then God is 2 seperate identities then also – since they are portrayed as ‘one in mission’ but not ‘one in essence/personalities’. I shall provide some examples:(a) “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3)Jesus calls God the ‘only true God’ and his being ‘sent’ was about pointing people ‘that-a-way’. Jesus, if he was going to be called God, should of been called one here – while he prayed to God. (b) “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser” (John 15:1)Jesus seperates himself and God – not in mission – but in essence. The vine in the analogy is a ‘plant’ – the vinedresser is a ‘person’ tending to the plant. They are most assuredly not the same thing – as a flower and a garderner are not. It almost never ceases in the gospels where Jesus and God are actually seperated in form of essence – and the baptism being the key one. (c) “After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.” (Matt 3:17-18)God is a voice from above in that scenario – seperate from Jesus being baptized at the time (on earth) – (unless he is a ventriliquist). If they are indeed both God – then we have seperate and unique identities in this passage as ‘God’ (there is obviously 2 people in that scene and not 1). God seperates himself and breaks His own commandment – 2 gods?“For an OT reference, in Isaiah, it says, “He (Jesus) shall be called ‘Emmanuel’–which means ‘God with us’.” Or, if you will, “God incarnate”.” (Shelly)God incarnate is a stretch from ‘God with us’. There is not a single OT passage actually referencing the idea of ‘God incarnate’ – so I doubt Isaiah is making that point. Jesus could still be ‘God with us’ in the sense he was ‘sent from God’ – his closest representative (the messiah) from His court to do the intended job. Jesus brings a message from God, many miracles of God, and a mission for God. Jesus is not doing anything for his own gain in any of the gospels – but to fulfill his ‘sending’. The fact he is ‘sent’ by God in and of itself should make it clear he is not ‘the One God’. He may have the title of son (most close) to God (even created by God) – but he is not God. That’s my take on it anyways.

  9. Let’s kick this around a bit. I tend to agree in general with your quote Steve, but I also can say a few things with certainty. Like:God is. God loves me. His name is Jesus. There is no other name given among men by which we must be saved.

  10. jimmybob, you use the word “certainty”, but isn’t your statement“His name is Jesus. There is no other name given among men by which we must be saved.”a matter of faith?

  11. “Faith doesn’t equal certainty. Doubts do not equal lack of faith. Truth is found as you continually seek.” (Steven)I agree 100% or as Hogan used to say ‘110%’. I have been doing some reading about faith in the last while – namely about this idea of certainty in one’s faith. It is okay to be sure about your faith – but being too sure about questions of the ‘mystery of God’ is tantamount to lying/exaggeration (in my opinion). Usually that much certainty becomes a control mechanism for the one with ‘the inside scoop’. God is a mystery and anyone thinking this is not so – needs to re-read the very 10 commandments they value as some cornerstone piee of Christendom. It’s very clear that God’s physical attributes are never to be made into an image and I am guessing the reason is – we’ll make God in our image with that much knowledge. The other thing God is not actually known by a name either (something I learned from Rabbi Brad Hirschfield). It is true there are many names for God: YHWH, Adonai, Shaddai, Creator, Father, etc…but not one of them encapsulates the entirety of God (thus the many names). So we keep producing names about God’s character for what we know about Him. But the name of God is actually elusive. So we know we serve a God without an image and without a name. Both things are important to keeping up the honesty of the God we claim to know. This leaks into my aspect of truth – which is the same as Steve’s. Truth unravels itself over time – we learn bits and pieces as we go – but we never have the full picture because there is soooo much to know about certain ideas we would call ‘truth’. For example, the take on non-violence is such a blurry debate it’s hard to know how to land on your 2 feet…yet we are fairly sure being a ‘peacemaker’ is something truthful/good/foundational to humanity’s survival. The key to figuring it all out is hearing all sides to the debate (and experiencing it) – then rendering your personal verdict. However, this will change over time and depends on new knowledge you are privy to. Now we can say we are ‘peacemakers’ and advocate ‘non-violence’ – true – but the truth of what we are saying is revealed from present to future – it is not static and sealed…it is rather open to dialogue and undertakes it own conversion. So faith, to me, is something alive and living – it’s still moving and being written. It’s like Abraham – in the sense that faith moves us from place to place and we do not ‘stay in one location all the time’ – no, our faith moves and grows and that’s where we find we are encountering God. So as the Hebrews writer used it “By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going.” (11:8)

  12. jb, “certainty” based on what?I do not doubt that these are truths that you have grown to adopt as your own, but we must be clear that such certainties-any certainties really-are always in the eye of the beholder, and must be treated as such.There was a group in San Diego a little while back that where <>certain<> that they were going to be joining God or whatever on a passing comet. We found them wearing matching jump suits minus their junk, but do we know for <>certain<> what happened to them (their souls)? Nope.So to illustrate my point check this out, starting at 5:10 minutes (of course you’re more than welcome to watch the whole thing) < HREF="" REL="nofollow" HTTP://YOUTUBE.COM/WATCH?V=LUSY6LNSXQQ&FEATURE=RELATED>2D World<> through the end. I am fully aware of my repeated Rob Bell references, but with no shame I say that he explains my understanding of the truth better than most.great post steve.

  13. Additionally, Truth is found in places many christians would never allow for. If it’s true, it belongs to God.Amen. Preach it, Steve.

  14. “[God’s] name is Jesus.That’s only one of his names, though. ;)” (Shelly)There is some contention on this issue, in my opinion. If God’s name is Jesus (never appears in the OT) then we have a duality about God – which is not impossible with Him – but he is breaking the most obvious commandmnet (which he also apparently wrote) – God is One. That’s why JimmyBob’s statement – as theologically Christian as it is – is not one of certainty. It’s like saying Christians serve 2 Gods (The Father and the Son). And they are different – one we have seen and has lived amongst us – the other is quite unseen (which seems to be the common God we all know). I would ocntend Jesus is the Messiah – in a somewhat fulfilled role – yet to be fully realized – sent from the ‘right hand of God’ – but not God. That’s splitting some serious thin theological hairs (I know) – but it is a matter of respect to the Jewish faith our faith rolled out from.

  15. I’d go as far as to say that those who claim certainty probably don’t have real faith, because it’s too easily shaken if they come across something that seems to disprove an aspect of their beliefs. Take out one stone and the whole edifice comes crashing down.If you’re open to doubt as part of your faith, then your faith is more likely still to be intact when one of your previously-held beliefs is shown to be wrong.

  16. Faith, by definition in Hebrews 11:1, is “evidence” of things unseen. Paul talks about us “knowing in part” and “seeing through a glass dimly”. Faith is putting down roots in ambiguity.Or, as Voltaire would say, “doubt is unpleasant, but certainity is absurd”. The best we can do with many things is to have faith. I can’t tell you really how a suspension bridge can last for 50 years and support literally millions of cars and trucks traversing it during that span of time. I have to trust that the engineers knew what they were doing and that the bridge crews’ diligent efforts will keep the bridge safe. I do have some evidence the bridge will be safe when I cross because, as I said earlier, millions of vehicles have crossed it, but how do I really know that sucker isn’t going to snap when <>I<> cross it? I have probability but I really don’t have certainity.I see some things in my life that speak of a Creator, but can I empirically prove the Creator’s existence? I’d be lying if I said i could.Faith and doubt are sides of the same coin.

  17. Everyone has faith in something…even nothing. One may choose to not believe in God, but based on all available “scientific evidence” one must still apply a certain degree of faith to close the gap and to then call it truth.I see my wife. I think I know her. I can touch her, smell her, speak with her, and yet there still exists the remote possibility that she is in fact a secret government spy (HIGHLY unlikely…if you knew her;), but I can not prove or disprove it with 100% certanity. I must apply faith that she is in fact who she says she is, and who I believe she is.This example might seem silly, but it really appies to everything. I examine the evidence I choose to discover (and that’s the real rub, so many aren’t willing to really dig past their own presuppositions, they scratch at the surface and then think to have discovered all there is to know…this btw does not only apply to the skeptics!) and then apply a degree of faith that I feel confortable with. What I’m left with then is what I can call my truth.

  18. Jimmybob: those things are not certainties. If we could be certain that God is, there’d be no need for faith. There is no undeniable proof that God is, that he loves us, that his name is Jesus or that there is no other name given among men by which we must be saved. Those are statements of faith, not certainty. You can say that you believe them (so do I), but none of us can be absolutely certain that they are true.Doubt is an important part of faith.

  19. sorry…I suck at html. Here’s the link:< HREF="http://youtube.com/watch?v=LusY6LnsXqQ&feature=related" REL="nofollow">2D World<>

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