I’m saturating myself in study at the moment, which sounds like hard work. It is hard work, in one way, but at least I am not suffering from motivation issues. Due to topics I’m looking at for writing research, including various articles and (eek) the book, plus regular challenging discussions, particularly with Jehovah’s Witnesses, my own hunger for understanding my faith is rapidly expanding. I’ve always been a proponent of intelligent faith. Many people think faith is blind. ‘Blind faith’ is a common phrase, or even more well known the ‘leap of faith’ (Dallas Willard had some very perceptive comments on that phrase when we went to hear him in Swindon – I intend to look over my notes again on that).
I have faith in someone for a reason – because they are trustworthy, because they are faithful, because I know them. My faith is based on my knowledge of that person. It may believe in the unseen, but that is not the same as blindness. In fact, it could well be the opposite, if you think about it. To keep digging deeper into what my faith means, to get to know what the bible actually says, to remove, as much is as ever possible, the lens of cultural misunderstandings and identify the rawness beneath: all this is valuable. My knowledge fuels my faith.
No, I don’t believe in ‘wise words’ over and against the demonstration of the Spirit’s power (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:4-5), but to use this and other verses not to seek greater understanding seems to me to be nonsense – after all, Paul (who wrote these words), expounded frequently on what his faith meant, especially in response to issues the church was facing (the nature of letters, of course – one side of a conversation). But when we determine to explore, to the best of our ability, the depths of what we believe and why we believe it, to question continually our suppositions and pre-suppositions, to immerse ourselves in a journey of discovery, we become stronger, healthier, more able to respond readily to those who question us. It’s important to do so in utmost humility, to offer what we have learnt as a contribution to the conversation, without ploughing in waving our discoveries like a baseball bat.
I’m reminded of the angel’s words to Daniel in his own quest for understanding:
‘Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard…‘ (Daniel 10:12)