Faith Rising

On Good Friday, some 55 days ago, I argued (quite effectively, I think) that God is dead. The dark post seemed fitting for the day. And then it just lingered. I promised myself that I would follow up with a strong affirmation of Easter faith. I even put the promise in writing. My parents began to fret. My priest began to pray (and maybe my bishop too–I learned a couple weeks back that he too had read it. Good thing they passed over me for that high profile position in the diocese…). For some reason I have struggled to write this post; perhaps that struggle will be a topic for another day. But today, with the flame of Pentecost still burning, the Spirit is moving (or at least I am motivated enough to try to write something halfway faithful).

To start, I will affirm that I think the issues that I raised in the previous post are very real problems that cannot be easily explained away. This post is not an attempt to reply to those concerns because I have no answer for them. You may have an answer, and I welcome your insight. I wish that the questions did not haunt me. I continue to seek in spite of the text, the tradition, and reason , not because of them.

One way around the problems is to follow Karl Barth as he takes a Kierkegaardian leap into the void. As Barth writes in his Epistle to the Romans (which is very useful for understanding Barth but not so useful for understanding Romans), “Faith is not a foundation upon which [human beings] can emplace themselves; not an atmosphere in which they can breathe; not a system under which they can arrange their lives.” (ER, 110)  The very discomfort I express is the place where faith can happen. It is only after the system has been completely dismantled that we can see clearly that faith “for all alike it is a scandal, a hazard, a ‘Nevertheless’; to all it presents the same embarrassment and the same promise; for all it is a leap into the void. And it is possible for all, only because for all it is equally impossible.” (ER, 99).  Kierkegaard writes similarly, “Without risk, there is no faith. Faith is precisely the contradiction between the infinite passion of the individual’s inwardness and the objective uncertainty. If I am capable of grasping God objectively, I do not believe, but precisely because I cannot do this I must believe. If I wish to preserve myself in faith I must constantly be intent upon holding fast the objective uncertainty, so that in the objective uncertainty I am out ‘upon seventy thousand fathoms of water,’ and yet believe.” (Unscientific Postscript)

I am curious how you deal with the tensions. Have you, dear reader, found a better way?

3 Comments

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3 responses to “Faith Rising

  1. David J. Lucey

    David, I read your Good Friday posting with great interest. And I have been praying a lot about its contents. But I must confess that most of those prayers have been for my understanding of the issues that you framed so eloquently, and dare I say, so faithfully on that day. I am cautious to even type the words that follow lest I betray my own deficiencies, or worse provide a stumbling block to you.

    Here’s what I can tell you about my faith in relationship scripture, tradition, and reason. I believe both because of and in spite of the foundations of the Church that I serve. Unlike Barth, and maybe you, I cannot but believe, even as I try not to hold to tightly onto any premise, assertion, or Creedal statement. I still find the structures helpful because if i were not a slave to them, I would be a slave to something else, and i am afraid that something else would not even have the built in, though flawed values of the structures by which I am currently supported.

    It would be more compelling to be in Lake Forest sharing this with you over a glass of our favorite beverage, but I thought it might be better to start the conversation somewhere.

    For now this is the best i can do. Barth explained it better as you offered above, but i will try my humble approach. The more I try to make sense out of and to be certain about what is there, the more ephemeral my structures are. To hold them firmly but lightly, even paradoxically is more helpful and more sound.

  2. Hi David,
    Thanks for your thoughtful reply. And, yes, it would be better over a drink (or three ;)… Much to think about here, especially the idea that we will be slave to some idea. I am not ready to reply, but I wanted you to know that I saw this and it gave me pause. As always, I appreciate your insight. I hope you and the family are well. (Is it tough being married to a development superstar???)

    • David J. Lucey

      Hi David,
      I would like the option for three drinks too. I look forward to your reply, and I might add being a little nervous. New to this blogging thing you know.
      No it is not tough being married to a development superstar, though it is tough trying to manage a church and children when she is super starring. Katherine and her vocation are some of the best parts of my life. Congratulations on your appointment, and best to Jessica and all the “creechures.” (? sp.)

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