Not an Anorak of Ignorance

I wonder what images come to mind when you hear someone described as a person of faith?

I get the impression that many people assume that people of faith have put on faith like they would put on a raincoat: faith is seen as some kind of anorak of ignorance that (vainly) seeks to shield people from suffering or to block out the big existential questions that life throws up.

Not only is this not my experience of faith – this is not the kind of faith that is presented in the bible.

Week by week in this season of Easter we have been dipping in to different accounts of how the first followers of Jesus reacted to the shocking news that Jesus’ life force was not eliminated in his state sanctioned murder.

I love these accounts because they are so honest. Different gospel authors tell us, again and again, that while the first followers of Jesus was full of joy about being confronted with the risen Jesus, they were also terrified and speechless and doubting. These texts go so far as to tell us that they often experienced these conflicting things at the same time.

Authentic faith is not one dimensional.  From the very beginning in the early church, faith it is not imaged as a reality denying or doubt suppressing enterprise. Instead these ancient biblical texts are robust an honest. Here faith and doubt coalesce. The reality that joy and uncertainty can occur concurrently is openly acknowledged.

Despite dominant understandings of faith in the Western world, Christian faith is not about agreeing (or disagreeing) with a set of intellectual propositions – that is, putting these ideas on or taking them off.

As reflected in the early church, faith is about engaging our authentic being with divine being.

Faith is about ongoing quest for, and organic relationship with, the divine. As witnessed to in the early church, necessarily in that journey there will be a myriad of experiences, because just as in honest human relationships, organic relationship with the divine will be dynamic and fluid and multi-dimensional.