Thursday, August 13, 2009


What Is Faith???

I am not at all sure what to make of Joe Carter's quote of Martin Lloyd-Jones:
Faith according to our Lord’s teaching in [Matthew 6:30], is primarily thinking; and the whole trouble with a man of little faith is that he does not think. He allows circumstances to bludgeon him… . We must spend more time in studying our Lord’s lessons in observation and deduction. The Bible is full of logic, and we must never think of faith as something purely mystical. We do not just sit down in an armchair and expect marvelous things to happen to us. That is not Christian faith. Christian faith is essentially thinking. Look at the birds, think about them, draw your deductions. Look at the grass, look at the lilies of the field, consider them… . Faith, if you like, can be defined like this: It is a man insisting upon thinking when everything seems determined to bludgeon and knock him down in an intellectual sense. The trouble with the person of little faith is that, instead of controlling his own thought, his thought is being controlled by something else, and, as we put it, he goes round and round in circles. That is the essence of worry… . That is not thought; that is the absence of thought, a failure to think.
Certainly the "do not be anxious..." section of the Sermon on the Mount involves thinking about our presuppositions, I mean the essence of the if...then statement is logic, but is that faith? Particularly just because Christ decries those who are not so thoughtful as "men of little faith."

Are we not to use scripture to understand scripture? The how do we deal with this passage in Matthew in light of this passage in Hebrews:
Heb 11:1 - Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
In other words, faith exists in the absence of evidence. What is thought absent evidence?

Certainly thought, reason, is useful in overcoming fear, and certainly fear is evidence of a lack of faith, but that is an insufficient syllogism to equate a lack of faith with a lack of thought or to equate thought and faith. I think it is fair to say the Venn diagrams intersect but are not identical, or even that the intersection is enough to call faith "primarily" thought.

Faith is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. (Gal 5:22-23). Faith is a mixture of emotion, reason, stubbornness, and the supernatural.

I have a problem with formulation like that quoted here because it implies the more intelligent one is, the more faithful. I don't think anyone, even Lloyd-Jones is willing to believe that. Such condemns those of limited mental capability to limited Christianity.

I am a person who can be near Vulcan like in my approach to emotionality - they are best suppressed and sequestered, particularly negative emotions like fear and anxiousness. But that is me. I have also seen people turn into blithering, irrational idiots in the face of the same stresses - but if they turn to ill-formed, nonsensical prayer can their faith truly be said to be less than mine? I don't think so.

We must be careful not to confuse the gifts that God has given us, and the approaches to problems they produce in us with TRUTH. These are different things.

Amongst the many wonders of God's creative acts are their variety. We excel at makes huge numbers of identical things. God excels at creating a thing that is almost infinitely variable. Our mechanical tendencies want to force God's creations in to our molds, but there is a moldless nature to His creation. We cannot confuse our mold with His.

One of the best expressions of faith I can think of, is to have faith that others, far less thoughtful than myself, are still of faith.

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