Georgia Harkness wrote a beautiful and thought-provoking piece on the meaning of faith in 1947. In it, she describes faith in terms of what it is and what it is not.
“To have faith does not mean to be gullible… The assumption that what we take on faith we take with closed minds, as if we had blinders on to shut out whatever light might creep in from other sources, lies at the root of the quarrel between religion and science.”
In my faith tradition, we consume many sources to grow faith. The Wesleyan quadrilateral of “scripture, tradition, experience and reason” is one way we simplify the faith journey we make together. In my 40 or so years of being in the United Methodist Church, I have especially appreciated the “reason” quadrant. To think that God not only created the brain to think but that reason is part of the call to faith is attractive to me. The problem is that the bottom has fallen out of the structure and agreement of what reason is. It is a confusing, maddening, and hopeless era for those of us who have built our lives on faith in the institutions of education, religion, and democracy. Our faith can speak to this time just like it did in Harkness’ time, though.She quotes Tennyson who wrote,
“There lives more faith in honest doubt,
Believe me, than in half the creeds.”
Yes, doubt is an ingredient of faith. I doubt that society will agree on the definition of truth again. I doubt that the myth of a cohesive culture will ever be ours again. But our faith can still be powerful. She continues to outline the following:
“Faith is then positive trust, confident trust, courageous adventure, and an inflowing of God-given power. It is faith that enables us to have eyes to see and ears to hear. It is faith as ‘insight’ that quickens the mind to truer ‘sight.’ As one learns the truth about science only when eyes are opened by an eagerness that drives learning, as one really sees great art or listens to great music only when the soul is sensitive to it, as one finds depths of richness in a friend only through an outgoingness of spirit that opens new channels, so one learns the truth about God only when one ‘stands in faith.’ Faith is the union of trusting confidence and courageous action.”
What is your faith expression of courageous action? For me, I would love to see our faith manifest in building schools and hospitals. I would love to see our faith address poverty, and mental illness. I would love for people of faith to lead the way to peaceful human existence.
– Rev. Alane Currier Griggs
Crossroads United Methodist Church
Western Slope Faith Leaders Table