Sunday, October 25, 2009

Future of Faith, Part 1

The first post as part of my stop on the The Future of Faith blogging tour!

I personally am excited to see attention given to more incarnational elements of spirituality and recognizing this is a legitimate way to engage and experience God. Cox beautifully describes this by saying "But it would be more accurate to think of it as the rediscovery of the sacred in the immanent, the spiritual within the secular. More people seem to recognize that it is our everyday world, not some other one, that, in the words of the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins, 'is charged with the grandeur of God'" (p. 2).

Cox also states that "people turn to religion more for support in their efforts to live in this world and make it better, and less to prepare for the next" (p. 2-3). Now this could be a controversial statement. He is making it not as a value judgment, but as an observation. Does this line up wiht what you've seen? And since this is a faith-based blog, do you think that's a good thing or not? I personally think it is valuable. We do so often ignore the present and bringing the Kingdom to Earth now...

Finally (for today), I think it's interesting how Cox differentiates the terms faith and belief. He states "faith is about deep-seated confidence... It is what theologian Paul Tillich (1886-1965) called 'ultimate concern,' a matter of what the Hebrews spoke of as the 'heart'" (p. 3). In contrast, he argues that "belief, on the other hand, is more like opinion" (p. 3).

I think it is important to separate those two terms, however I'm not sure I would completely agree with the definition of faith he gives. He describes it as "confidence," which indicates a lack of doubt or struggle. From the foundation of this blog, I am convinced that faith is always based on deep-seated confidence, but rather deep-seating conviction. I really like Tillich's definition, which focuses more on our concerns and priorities than being objectively and subjectives convinced of something.

Yes, these are subtle differences, but the implications are huge. Deep-seating confidence feeds into the positivist traditions of finding objective truth through scientific discovery and apologetics. On the other hand, deep-seated conviction is based on a more organic, human experience (in my opinion--you know where I land :) ). What say you to all of this? What do you think of the definitions? It's also interesting to see web definitions of faith.


  1. "Cox also states that "people turn to religion more for support in their efforts to live in this world and make it better, and less to prepare for the next" (p. 2-3)".

    I see this varying between religions and I do not criticize any but see a difference.

    Hindu and Catholicism seem to place more emphasis on preparing for the "afterlife" while Hebrew and Protestantism seem more inclined toward here and now as where our effort to be the hands and feet of God is centered and most important.

    On Faith, I see that less in terms of "confidence" and more in terms of Trust that He has and always will take us the right path no matter how harsh parts of that journey may seem!

  2. It's interesting that you see Catholocism as focusing on the afterlife and Protestantism focusing on the present. I've seen it strongly the opposite, as indicated by the Catholic tradition focused more on social justice (present changes) versus evangelicalism's emphasis on conversion and salvation (which is virtually always focused on the afterlife).

    I like your way of phrasing a definition of faith, too: Trust.



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