Sunday, February 6, 2011

Can All We Have Be Faith?

Today's sermon was about faith in the "unseen". The scripture about the blind man being healed by Jesus was the text. The pastor's premise was that belief in the unseen world of "God" will help you "see" the unseen realities of "God".  This is faith. Indeed, it does take faith, so what does that mean? It predominately means that one bases their understanding of life and all that is on faith's premises of "text and/or tradition".

All humans have reason, but not all of us use our reasoning capacity in the same way. Those that believe based on "faith's claims" either must use their reasoning abilities to believe in Aristotle's God of the past. God is the First Cause. And even, if one suggests that God is not the first Cause, but that "God'" superintends evolution, one is still believing in a "god" outside the sphere of human reality. Then,, there are those that believe that "god is present within reality itself". Natural causes, such as man's choices are irrevocably "God's design", because God oversees the choices men make to "work all things out together for good", for those "called according to his purpose".  One still has to interpret experience by "faith" in the text and/or tradition, confining reason to an "inside' group mentality. This is called God's foreknowledge. God understands the evil choices that men will make and somehow that becomes "his will". We are to submit and obey to all circumstances, for this is the "will of God in Christ Jesus, concerning you"! (I wonder what leadership does, then? Sit back, trust "god", and obey? No, they are the ones accountable for making policy that plays into life. And leaders that do so to restrict another liberty are tyrannical.) This is why men and "god" cannot be above the law Our Constitution defines good government where each human is valued and has the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Good governmen, as well as good leadership allows for individual liberty and choice of value. Good government is based on the consent of the governed.

The Text is not a supernatural "Gift that fell From heaven", but a human testimony of experience/belief. And these beliefs were based on an ancient paradigm, not a modern scientific understanding. But, just as much as the Text is not "supernatural", neither is Tradition Tradition is really history about the social and political context that formed the scripture/text itself. Church history is also within the context of a larger context of world history. Tradition is a specified history, based on the social/political history of the Church.

Faith-based reasoning isn't justifiable except to those that believe, because of its group mentality, and/or irrational claims of faith. Faith becomes only defined by one's choice of commitment of value. Does one find a faith community of benefit to one's life journey? If so, these faith communities will define one's faith for you. This is how the Protestant denominations have worked, even though Protestantism was resistance to defining authority. As the Protestant faith is a foundational principle to America's understanding of religion, America does not allow the State to sancton one faith above another. Some may not choose to value a faith communities' defining faith. And these will find themselves as "outliers" to faith communities. Some of the Founding Fathers were "outliers" to orthodox Christian faith and America was to be tolerant toward such faith/beliefs.

Those that use reason to justify faith are apologists. These use their reason to justify faith claims about "God's intervention" in the world, or "God", as the world. One takes God as the over-seer, while the other sees "god" as the world, itself. One focuses on a supernatural God, while the other focuses on a natural God; the God of the philosophers.

It is very dangerous to believe that one's faith is absolute, because faith is context specific (denomination or religion). Therefore,good government cannot be based on "faith claims", because then, government would have to sanction a certain specified faith, which our First Amendment forbids. We became a country that had no allegience to one size fits all "faith". America believes in the indivdiual's right of choice about that value. And America also defends those that don't have that value, just as well!

Our pastor ended his sermon by suggesting that when one was at work and chose to talk about the "Tea Party" movement to use biblical or religious language! I thought that this sleight of hand was a way for him to gain the Christian Right's attention to religious ideals and values of the "religious left", instead of economic, democratic, and political values of capitalism.

Our government and the West in general believes that individuals have a right to disagree and be a part of the political process. How does one see government and the individual? Is government to have positive liberties and rights, or is the individual to have these positive rights? Is government to be understood to only have negative liberties and rights, or is the individual to only have negative liberties and rights? Our Founders believed in limited government. That is negative liberties and rights. This is the basis of Constitutional balance of power. One cannot have a government based on government power, otherwise, those governing have all the power, while the people are pawns to government dictates.  This is a dangerous position because such thinking leaves room for radical liberal ideologues to gain power in our government without any question from the Right. We must maintain the balancing of views so that our government will not be run without accountability to "the other side". Otherwise, our governemnt will be defined by a "one size fits all" and such governing would be tyrannical to those that disagree!

Irregardless of what the pastor said today, the political realm is the real world and whether one believes in god or not, one must live in and under the type of government that exists in/over one's society.

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