[T]he Godhead has more modes of operation than Humankind has of intellection. Nonetheless, always tolerable is the pious and humble inquiry into Truth.
What’s needed in life, My dear friend, is faith as well as sincerity. Not depth or height, nor breadth or sweep of intellect. And certainly not mastery of the Mysteries of God.
(Thomas ‘a Kempis, The Imitation of Christ, trans. William Griffin)
The downfall of much Christianity is its settling for faith as a mentalism. There must be transformation beyond intellectualized belief bound up in dogma, creed, confession, theoretical theology, and, frankly, “This is what I thinkism.”
Even as an ant cannot fathom the nature of our galaxy, we cannot fathom the full nature of Truth. Fortunately, we can trust and experience, increasingly, Truth that we cannot understand: faith makes this possible.
Dallas Willard writes of the conventional idea of faith as “an interior act of mind that secures forgiveness alone” (The Spirit of the Disciplines). In mentalism to believe in Jesus, for example, means to agree to assertions about Jesus. This misses the point of what the New Testament means by having faith in, or faithing in, Jesus.
This belief about mentalism continues to spawn “Christians” and churches showing little evidence of transformed character, despite their oft protests against liberalism or a general lack of morality in society. Indeed, much of this moralized Christianity fails miserably to evidence transformed character, a conversion of the heart.
What we need is a transformative Christianity, for it will reach to the wellsprings of the heart and transform the energies of personality into the Fruit of the Spirit. Faith as affirmation of ideas, or prepositional faith, cannot transform beyond mind itself. Mental faith cannot go beyond the mental. Mental faith must undergo a humbling death to its own limitation and open to faithing in.
Willard notes that the New Testament knows nothing of a “purely ‘mental’ faith.” Rather, “the faith of the New Testament is a distinctive life force….” (The Spirit of the Disciplines)
Certainly, there are beliefs that prepare us for deepening faith and provide structure for our lives. We need, however, to allow the Infinite One to open us to faith as a dynamism, active, moving, and formative for the spiritual communities we worship and serve in and for our own selves, also.
1. Distinguish having a faith and having faith.
2. What is the difference between belief and faith?
3. What is the difference between believing and believing in?
4. What is the purpose of transformative Christianity?
Spirit, deal a deadly death to our clinging to mind that we might rejoice in union of spirit with Spirit. Amen.
Brian's book of mystical love poetry,
An Ache for Union, can be ordered through major bookdealers.
Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors
The People of the
United Methodist Church