America was founded on the principle of liberty. Liberty was of value to protect from factions (Federalist #10) because factions divided the nation into special interests. And special interests did not protect justice or liberty. Therefore, "faith" in American society is undefined faith, because the Founders did not want to establish a religious tradition (The First Amendment). But, "faith" was understood to be an important value to protect the social structures of the family. Our nation was a mix of Enlightenment understanding and "faith" principles. Today's challenge is to combine such understanding with principles. Pragmatism and moral idealism were the 'standards' the Founders used to serve the nation's interests.
Enlightenment was the knowledge of man in scientific terms. Today's scientific understanding of man and his society has pushed aside the need for "faith" principles. In fact, "faith" has become a natural faith in reason, not revelation. All aspects of man and his environment is undestood within the Academy. The religious find it hard to defend religious texts as special revelation, other than defending "personal faith".
"Personal faith" is just that, "personal". It canot be defined, controlled, or reasoned from the outside. It is a faith development model, that understands "faith" as symbolic and human development as the real understanding to "faith".
"Faith principles" are understood as character, in personal terms, as to values. These are not formed from without but are worked out from within. "God" is understood in symbolic ways of leadership in the here and now, not defined as a supernatural Being. The needed character for a "god" (government) is humility. And this is learned first in the family and "moral education". Fully formed "faith principles" is "self-governance, because self-governance was also self-resposible behavior". "Self-goverance" was a high value to our Founders, as without it, there could be "no union" because self-interested parties would undermine and make "war" for thier personal investments. This was one of the very reasons why "religion" was not to drive public policy, because it would inevitably bring about factions. Factions base their understanding of "faith" on "real understanding" of the transcendent. As the transcendent can only be appealed to but never "proved", these will always cause divisions in the nation. It takes humility to unite when "faith" is so important that "faith communities" divide over its definition.
Humility requires an acknowledgement that leaders are needed if anything gets done. Humility frames the "personal" to be a part of what is needed to protect and prosper society, as a whole. The principle of the "personal" is also, an understood boundary to leadership. Good leadership does not presume and doesn't take advantage or intrude upon another's "personal". This is a character principle of humility and mutural respect. Though humility is needed, it does not "put its head in the sand" but uses the best information that is known in the Academy to further the "ends" of societal flourishing.
Today's sermon tried to balance the supernaturalists and the naturalists undestanding of religion, for societal benefit. The supernaturalists were appealed to on the basis of "God's vision" of love and hope....and the Church being of importance. The naturalists, on the other hand, were appealed to understand the need to the disadvantaged children in our society for education and encouraging character development. These children who have no healthy role models are those that need the impact from those that care about society's health as a whole.
Factions were never the intent of the Founders. They intended to build one nation "under God", but "God" was understood as a "faith principle", because we were mostly a Protestant nation. And faith can't be defined, except as a personal commitment of value in a free society. Those that seek to prevert or co-erce another's life in forming "faith" through "works" are "using scripture to over-ride" the moral principles of our Constitutional government, because the scriptures also say, that "whatsoever is not of faith is sin". And if the "just" live by "faith", then there is no more room for discussion, as whether one is a believer or unbeliever, faith is foremost a principle of character. A character that will not bend under the principle of Liberty and Faith.