Thursday, June 7, 2007

To Believe or Not

The flip side of some of the issues raised in ”Have You Given Up Hope And Reason”, is the notion that Modernism (or whatever one wants to call ideas that emerged in post-World War I Western culture) that questioned conventional belief in and understanding of God, is somehow dangerous, that no one before or since ever doubted God’s presence or love for humankind or bore fruit as a result, and that the same “old familiar Christian words” have at all times in all places have had a single fixed meaning. Instead of trying to understand the context for the questions that arose and the various kinds of provisional answers that emerged in those contexts, some would simply reduce them all to a terrifying specter of non-belief, which somehow is responsible for all the current woes of the world.

The fact of the matter is that both the troubles and the doubts are much the same as those that have been with humankind from the beginning. Every generation has had different ways of dealing with them, different ways of approaching and seeking to understand who or what God is, and different views of how those understandings should shape our individual and communal lives. Each and every one of them have been “wrong” in the sense that none have gotten it all “right.”

How do we ever sort it all out? I don’t think we do, at least not in our time or on our terms. Rather than obsess over who has it “right” or “wrong” and blaming humanity’s woes on those who fail to pass their theological exams, why can’t we keep it simple and focus on hope, charity, and love? God doesn’t need our “belief” to either be or to work wonders in our lives and all of eternity. God will help us believe what we need, as long as we ask and listen. The only true test of belief is embodied in "credo" -- whether we have turned our whole hearts over to God. Once we have that, I don't think God will quibble over our words, since his Word subsumes them all.


Grandmère Mimi said...

A quick reading of Acts and Paul's Epistles demonstrate that controversy goes all the way back to the beginnings of Christianity.

Much blood has been shed over the centuries because of quarrels among those who call themselves Christians.

One wonders to which perfect period in the history of the church they would want to return.

Share Cropper said...

KLady, I've tagged you for a meme, originated maybe by Padre Mickey. Check my blog for details. Thanks.

klady said...

Tagged, I am.

Mimi, I thought it was 16th century Calvinism, at least for some.

Oddly, this reminds me of the astonishing question my daughter recently read to me off a worksheet she was given to do for Honors (!) Global History. It asked, what kind of mood were the people in during the time of the plague in the Middle Ages? Well, (ahem) pretty Dark (or as she decided to put it, dreary) during those times of high catholicity.

More to the point, was my visit to Chartres last year. When I first visited it something like 35 years ago, I was struck awe with its beauty and what I took as its commitment to faith. This time, my responses were mixed, hearing the part its sponsors played in the Crusades, especially the Children's Crusade. Indeed, there never has been a perfect period of ideal faith.