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?