One of the tragic things to happen to happen to Christianity is how westernized it has become. It has fallen into either/or thinking. So much of Christianity has fallen into binary thought. We have accumulated a lot of knowledge— too much to process, unfortunately— and we don’t know how to hold it. We have so much to believe in that we don’t know what to believe in. This has been the tragic influencer in so much of our relativistic and nihilistic belief structures. These belief structures have not taught us stable thinking, as one can say that because everything is relative, then that statement is relative. And, a belief in nothing, is a belief in something.
One of the great hopes of Christianity comes from people like Harvey Cox, who says the recent generations of Christianity have been what he is calling the Age of Belief, and the next generations will fall into the Age of Faith, or the Age of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit, according to some recent surveys, has been the most recent interest of spirituality. Most people, especially in America, have made up their minds on Jesus, but they’re fascinated by The Holy Spirit. This, to me, is a great hope for greater faith in both America but the surrounding world.
Faith does a number of things that conflict with my evangelical tradition. Evangelicalism has not only fallen into the either/or, overly rationalistic thinking, but it has also fallen into a completely literalistic interpretation of the Bible. They’re scared that if you ask questions of the Bible, that the whole thing will crumble. But, no one can take the Bible completely literally (otherwise we’d believe the earth was standing on pillars (Job 3:8) and the sky was surrounded by water). Faith, allows us to hold paradoxes and contradictions, something that our systematic theology and either/or thinking has failed to give us. Faith allows us to have doubts. Faith allows us to struggle with and hold the tension of what appears to be contradictions in Jesus vs. God, in science vs. religion, in the how a Christian is meant to live in the world. Doubt even reveals a deep-rooted faith in the relationship it holds with its creator. Just as a married couple is allowed to fight with each other, God honors our requests, doubts and contradictions, no matter how heretical or blasphemous they may be. This is the beauty we see in the story of Job and Jacob fighting with God.
“For me, learning to be a Christian has meant learning to live without answers. Indeed, to learn to live in this way is what makes being a Christian so wonderful. Faith is but a name for learning how to go on without knowing the answers.”- Stanley Hauerwas