Whenever the secular world or media mention the Christian community, the term most often used is “people of faith.” The secular context of a “person of faith” is someone believing in a God never seen, never felt, nor ever tangibly experienced.
This group’s “faith” merely is based on the hope that such a God exists. That might be because others have declared it so, or the Christian’s book, the Bible, asserts it as so. And so the Christian must blindly trust his God’s claims despite the supposedly growing historical and scientific evidence to the contrary.
The secular world might concede a slight bit more, accepting that perhaps these people of faith did at some point in their lives experience something “spiritual” or, according to science, “unexplainable.” That unexplainable spiritual (or more likely psychological) phenomenon is then called “God.” Just as another’s unexplainable phenomena might be personally claimed as an encounter with Buddha, or the Great Other, or Nature or some other metaphysical expression.
Unfortunately, much of the American Christian church has not only surrendered itself to this secularized label of “faith,” but it also has offered little objective evidence of anything to the contrary.
But for those having experienced true eternal life conversion, the secularized faith label is not merely annulled; it is completely transformed, and, as I soon will show, to the betterment of society as a whole.
THE FAITH OF 1492
I shall illustrate this true Christian faith and its perceptible evidence by referencing an example of faith from the annals of history. In the year 1492, Columbus embarked on his famous maiden voyage to the New Land. His quest was fueled by the need to prove to both his critics and his financiers that the world was in fact round and not flat. Columbus stood resolute in his round-world conviction.
But it is probable his onboard crew might not have fostered such devout belief.
As the vessels set sail, the crews aboard the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria were forced to place considerable blind faith in the man leading them toward potential doom. They had all been navigated for years by maps artistically depicting where the flattened earth collided with cosmic oblivion. And now they were rapidly sailing towards one of these spots. Those having taken this blind faith journey must have been plagued with the itching fear that their ships soon would spill off the end of the flat ocean, tumbling down into the empty blackness of space.
It is likely such fear remained… up until the moment the crew realized they had successfully passed the line signaling the end of the earth and eventually spotted the New Land in the distance.
Still, once Columbus and his crew reached the New World intact, their return voyage required crossing the same horizon line again. So did the crew require the same amount of faith for the return journey? Were the shipmates gripped with an identical panic? These questions are rhetorical; what once required blind faith had, through actual and evidential experience, been proven as fact. It was through these new facts that the crew’s future actions – and ultimately, those of all humanity – would forever transpire.
TRUE CHRISTIAN FAITH
In the same manner, a true Christian’s faith no longer is relegated to merely the hope that God does in fact really exist and that the Christian’s belief system is a valid one. The evidence of that initial faith is crystallized with the first actual experience of His presence and His voice. Not a metaphysical force or an idea – but a real and tangible encounter with a true and very real God.
A true person of faith no longer clings to the shallow hope that his or her God might exist while still never having experienced a modicum of His presence or nature. Like Columbus’ crewmates, proven faith transcends hope. For a true Christian, faith is transformed. It is not based on the reality of a now proven God, but in the assurance that the words this very real God has spoken – are possible in our lives.
Because of mankind’s finiteness and frailty, this is where the fires of true faith must continually be stoked. The biblical text states: “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Rom. 10:17, NKJV) It describes a perpetual faith, an organic, growing faith that, at times, ebbs and flows. But not in its trust in the existence of God as the secular world presupposes. Instead, it is in the potential of His image: You and me. For this God moves most often through the faith of His image: humanity.
OUR FAILURE AT TRUE FAITH
In similar fashion, though many of America’s mega-church buildings are filled to capacity on Sundays, it appears that little of the modern church ever experiences true, perpetual and organic faith – based on its lack of tangible societal evidence. Instead the church struggles year after aching year with defending this secularized version of faith, still grappling with the actuality of the God it claims to serve. Granted, there are times when such a question appears to have merit, even among the most truly faithful. When tragedy, horror and unmerited misfortune strike individually or collectively, many respond by asking, “Where is this God?” But such an inquisition only can be offered when man has had no evidential examples of the glory of God prior to these tragedies.
So how is an impalpable God provable evidentially? How can mankind see the tangible glory of an invisible God? To answer these questions is to again quote St. Irenaeus: “The glory of God is man fully alive.” Herein lies the church’s tragedy: It has relegated what should be a fully alive Christianity into merely the secularized version of the term “faith.” Because people of faith fail to show fully alive evidence of the glory of God through their own lives, the fully alive God is Himself marginalized, claimed as metaphysically anemic, and relegated to merely being another affiliate of the pluralistic pantheon of faith gods.
The book you are about to read does not attack that pantheon of other faiths, but instead helps to strengthen and further validate this “true faith.” I hope that by the time you have finished this book, you will have crossed that horizon line again, confident and energized in your faith, and ready to share that faith in fresh, magnanimous and winsome ways.
Let us now travel together.
- In “Defense” of our Faith? (rethinkerblog.wordpress.com)