Faith and Belief
Welcome Darkness and Mystery
Wednesday, July 19, 2017
There are commonly two kinds of human beings: there are people who want certitude and there are people who want understanding; and these two often cannot understand one another.
Those who demand certitude out of life will insist on it even if it doesn’t fit the facts. Logic has nothing to do with it. Truth has nothing to do with it. “Don’t bother me with the truth—I’ve already come to my conclusion!” If you need certitude, you will surround yourself with your conclusions.
The very meaning of faith stands in stark contrast to this mind-set. I think Jesus (or the Father or Spirit) is actually dangerous if taken outside of the Trinity. Jesus held separate from the other members of the Trinity implies that faith is a static concept instead of a dynamic and flowing one.
We’ve turned faith into certitude when, in fact, this Trinitarian mystery is whispering quite the opposite: we have to live in exquisite, terrible humility before reality. In this space, God gives us a spirit of questing, a desire for understanding; it seems to me it’s only this ongoing search for understanding that will create compassionate and wise people.
If you think you have a right to certitude, then show me where the Gospel ever promised or offered you that. If God wanted us to have evidence, rational proof, and perfect clarity, the incarnation of Jesus would have been delayed till the invention of audio recorders and video cameras.
Rational certitude is exactly what the Scriptures do not offer us. They offer us something much better and an entirely different way of knowing: an intimate relationship, a dark journey, a path where we must discover for ourselves that grace, love, mercy, and forgiveness are absolutely necessary for survival in an uncertain world. You only need enough clarity and ground to know how to live without certitude! Yes, we really are saved by faith. People who live in this way never stop growing, are not easily defeated, and frankly, are fun to live with.
You can tell mature and authentic faith by people’s ability to deal with darkness, failure, and non-validation of the ego—and by their quiet but confident joy! Infantile religion insists on certainty every step of the way and thus is not very happy.
Gateway to Silence:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. —Proverbs 3:5
Adapted from Richard Rohr, The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation (Whitaker House: 2016), 100-101; and
Richard Rohr, The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See (The Crossroad Publishing Company: 2009), 120.