Faith and Belief: Weekly Summary — Center for Action and Contemplation

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Faith and Belief: Weekly Summary

Faith and Belief

Summary: Sunday, July 16-Friday, July 22, 2017

“Could Christians migrate from defining their faith as a system of beliefs to expressing it as a loving way of life?” —Brian McLaren (Sunday)

“By defining itself as a settled system of beliefs, Christianity . . . became a leash or a locked door impeding ongoing growth instead of a force for liberation and forward movement.” —Brian McLaren (Monday)

Our faith is not a belief that dogmas or moral opinions are true, but a faith that Ultimate Reality/God/Jesus is accessible to us—and even on our side. Jesus was able to touch and heal people who trusted him as an emissary of God’s love, not people who assessed intellectual statements and decided whether they were true or false. (Tuesday)

Rational certitude is exactly what the Scriptures do not offer us. They offer us something much better: 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. (Wednesday)

We are all participating—with varying degrees of resistance and consent—in the faith journey that Jesus has already walked. All we can do now is make what is objectively true fully conscious for us. (Thursday)

Faith largely became believing things to be true or false (intellectual assent) instead of giving people concrete practices so they could themselves know how to open up (faith), hold on (hope), and allow an infilling from another source (love). (Friday)


Practice: Holding the Tension

The future of mature Christianity will be practice-based more than merely belief-based, which gives us nothing to argue about until we try it for ourselves.

Jesus praises faith even more than love. “Your faith has saved you” is often his concluding word (for example, Luke 8:48). Why? Because typically, wisdom, love, or further growth will not go deeper without another opening up or letting go. For some reason, each time you have to learn it again and “reopen.” Faith enlightens the path behind you, but as a rule, in front of you it is still dark. Now, however, not so threatening or impossible, because for you “a light shines on in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overpower it” (John 1:5).

Are you ready to open yourself—to vulnerability, to risk, to relationship? If so, let’s begin!

Think of one controversial issue that you are “suffering” with and acknowledge two or more possible outcomes or realities. Try to not take sides, but hold the pain of contradictions and seeming impossibilities. Notice where this tension appears in your body. Observe it with tenderness and send warmth and love to that place. Ask God to hold you since you cannot hold yourself.

As with contemplative prayer or meditation, whenever you get caught in thinking through the pros and cons or are drawn to choose a particular side, simply return to holding the tension. Rest in God’s presence which holds you and this paradox.

Emerging from this spaciousness, you can now be taught by the Holy Spirit. It might just be wisdom you receive, instead of only knowledge.

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), 199; and
Richard Rohr, The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See (The Crossroad Publishing Company: 2009), 120-121.

For Further Study:
Richard Rohr, The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation (Whitaker House: 2016)
Richard Rohr, The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See (The Crossroad Publishing Company: 2009)

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