Jesus… The Journey from Knowing to Loving.


There comes a time in every persons life when an awareness of something beyond themselves begins to make itself felt. That is, at some point we begin to question things. At first this may be small things like, “why is the grass green?” or “how come I can see the moon sometimes during the day?”. Sooner or later we start to ask BIG questions such as “Do I really have to listen to my parents” or Why do I really have to do something the way they said to do it?”.  Somewhere in the process of maturing the really big questions turn to, “Why am I here?”, “Do I matter?”, What is the purpose of Life?”, Is there a God?”

Our focus often times is on finding answers to the questions, rarely do I observe or even experience the occasion when we ask, “Why do I ask these questions”  The idea that these questions come up, in some form or another, for all people, seems to me to be, The Big Question. I have come to the conclusion personally that our Creator put these things inside of our internal makeup and that we are designed to seek answers.

The next series of posts, I want to explore some of these topics in greater detail. The title of the series is the hinge on which I want to open up a dialogue between both those who believe and those who don’t, between those who have faith and those who struggle with the idea that faith is even necessary, and look deeper into faith versus knowing/ believing.

There are those who feel that nothing is knowable, (that is), there is no absolute truths, nothing is knowable for sure and that in the interest of respect for all, that whatever one chooses to believe is up to them and is just as valid as what anyone else believes. Can we ask a bigger question here? It seems to me that this in and of itself is dependent on 1) people must believe something, 2) that their belief  somehow has validity.  This leaves me with the questions: How do they reconcile that they feel they know something and at the same time believe that nothing is really knowable? Can we use the word “know” and “believe” interchangeably?

Are knowing and believing the same? How about faith, is faith and believing interchangeable? I know it sounds like semantics but the meanings we attach to words matter… it is hard to communicate with others when we perceive different meanings for the same word. These are not, I hope, things we are quick to throw pat answers at.

Knowing and believing are not the same and believing and faith are not the same. One thing they do share, is the common ability to mean different things depending on what emotions are present at the time. However I would like to hypothesize how true faith is different from all the others. 

faith

[feyth] Show IPA

noun

1.

confidence or trust in a person or thing: faith in another’s ability.
2.

belief that is not based on proof: He had faith that the hypothesis would be substantiated by fact.
3.

belief in God or in the doctrines or teachings of religion: the firm faith of the Pilgrims.
4.

belief in anything, as a code of ethics, standards of merit, etc.: to be of the same faith with someone concerning honesty.
5.

a system of religious belief: the Christian faith; the Jewish faith.
And now…

My definition of faith:, doing or acting on something that defies human reasoning as the sole motivator.

Notice that the definitions from dictionary.com tie the word belief to faith?  Belief  is entirely possible without faith, belief and faith can work very well together, but, can we say “I have faith without belief” ? It is interesting, that at first glance the idea of having faith without belief seems ludicrous yet I think our churches are full of people who have things mixed up.  It seems if we refer to an earlier part of this post that we, as a people, are imbued with a desire to seek answers for big questions and I would like to hypothesize that faith came first before belief, that indeed it was faith that motivated us to seek in the first place.

More on this later… But now it is time for you all to chime in here! Let me know what you …believe

JT

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About JT

I am a happily married man with 6 children and have an autoimmune disease. I hope to share my story and explore others' stories and perhaps together both of our lives will be enhanced.
This entry was posted in God, introspection, life and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

31 Responses to Jesus… The Journey from Knowing to Loving.

  1. I’m trying to think of how to say what I mean without it seeming rude. There is a mindset that atheists have that is different from believers. I suppose the biggest difference is that an atheist does something (gives his life to or for a cause, suffers for something worthwhile, etc) without any hope of an eternal reward, or perhaps any reward at all. I find that a much more admirable position than what religious folks seem to get pigeon holed into.

    (I just happened to realize that might be the case.) One thinks of a religious person as always doing something with the idea of a pay off involved. Perhaps the person would do something noble and selfless if there was no reward—but the problem is that one doesn’t know that by the boxed-in circumstance of being religious. I know that the ardent atheist who takes a bullet through the back of his head for hiding a Jewish family from the Nazis is doing what he has done for one purpose only—he thinks it was the right thing to do.

    Conversely, the religious person feels compelled to set aside his own conscience and sense of right and wrong, due to a “fear of God.” This is best illustrated in the story of Abraham and Isaac. The jaw-dropping situation where Abraham is praised as a hero for being willing to commit this cowardly and inhuman act is stunning. I would think he would be a hero if he had said, “No, Lord. I refuse to kill MY son. You gave him to me, and I shan’t do anything but treat him with love and kindness.” The reason that response would be so important is that the Jews at that time—and perhaps now for all I know—did not believe in an afterlife. Thus Abraham could fear what God could do to him in this life, but he wouldn’t have the specter of eternal damnation in agony hanging over his head. We all have a breaking point. But that particular terror weapon wasn’t in use at the time.

    There are many poignant examples in literature that illustrate the difference between doing what the Law says to do and what the right thing to do is. “Le Miserables” has a few instances. There is a woman who has the reputation for never having told a lie. It’s of great value to her. The criminal Jean Val Jean is in her home, taking refuge. The inspector, knowing she is a good and pious woman tells her that he needn’t enter her home—all she needs to do is to say yes or no and he will believe her. The inspector asks is anyone else in your home, and she answers “No. “

    She gave up her greatest source of personal pride and worth. In another instance, Jean Val Jean has just broken out of prison and a kindly old couple have given him shelter. He betrays their trust and steals all the silver he can carry. The cops catch him. But rather than press charges, they give him their cloak also. Lying, the old man says, “We gave those items to him.” Then he fetches some other pieces in his set of candle holders and says, “Friend, you forgot these.”

    • JT says:

      Wow, now that is what I call a comment. I will respond to this later as I am not able to give proper thought and attention to a response at the moment. An awful lot happening right now with pre-op testing and such.. hopefully if all goes well I will have some time during recuperation.

      • Didn’t know you were having surgery. Hope that goes without a hitch for you and that you’re recovery is swift.

        You were hoping for a discussion with several people joining in, which I guess isn’t going to happen. (I know the feeling). Not sure if I really replied to the question as you wanted, but I gave it a shot. This is where I think the Jews have something going for them–from what I’ve been told–they really like discussing things of this type.

        There are as you mentioned big questions. Even at my advanced age, I’m still coming across ideas that I never heard of before or even thought to ask–and that was just yesterday. 🙂

      • How’s it going, JT? Have you read “Silas Marner”? I just finished it–listening to it actually. The guy who read it for Librivox did the best reading I’ve ever heard. Absolutely awesome. Great Book. There’s a short post about it with the download addresses.

      • JT says:

        Hi Donald, Just home from the hospital now and hurting so much I am not up to the blog thing. I haven’t read it but I did bookmark it to take a look at later. Thanks for the heads up.

      • I came across this video and since you’re thinking about going to Romania, I thought you might be interested in watching it.

      • JT says:

        Donald this is heart wrenching and unfortunately not any surprise to me.. what they do to their own children in Romania and I’m sure in other places as well is maim them in order to increase the odds of receiving money while begging. The problem is generational and systemic and frankly overwhelming when considering how to help.

        Thanks for sharing this with me nonetheless… we should be reminded of the atrocities around us instead of feigning ignorance.

      • Okay JT. Hope you are feeling better soon, my friend.

      • I didn’t mean for it to be depressing–although it is that. I just thought you ought to know about that in case you didn’t.

        I hope your ordeal is over soon. (Let me rephrased that: I hope you recover quickly).

        I’ve been going to the Richard Dawkins “science” foundation. Just a bunch of morbid atheists if you want to know my opinion. Bummer trying to talk to them. Say anything good about religion there and you’re met with frowns on their frowny little faces.

      • JT says:

        My ordeal keeps getting longer , Really frustrated at this point :-/ this was supposed to be over last Friday now it looks to be September 9th at the earliest. Trying to avoid a whine fest… In light of that video this is a cake walk 🙂

      • It’s quite understandable that it’s frustrating. I’ve heard it said that it’s good to vent your frustrations over things like this. Vent away if you’d like. I’ve got a shoulder you can lean on.

      • JT says:

        Thanks Donald, perhaps I will email you when I want to vent… not really wanting to air my whining out on the blogosphere. 🙂

    • Good grief. I just read this over, and yikes; tact and subtlety are not my strong suit. It reads harsher than I meant it to. 😦

      Still, I gave getting a discussion with some ideas a shot. (Wish I had been able to phrase some of those tings better, though.)

  2. Patronus says:

    I thought your comments were spot on, Donald, and fairly sensitive.

    Christianity ties itself into intellectual knots over some of the problems you raise.

    Side-note: “faith” can also mean “faithfulness,” as in “keeping faith.” This is true in both Greek and English. What one does is always tied to one’s belief about it: in your example of Abram and Isaac, Abram’s belief appears to be that YHWH is entitled to ask whatever he wants; later Christian writers would gloss this by saying he actually believed in YHWH’s ability to raise Isaac from the dead, but that’s nowhere in the Genesis text. Somewhere, somehow, he believed he was being faithful to YHWH.

    A more skeptical man might be a little more inclined to ask whether a god worth serving has given such a command, and would index his faithfulness to his belief in what is really good.

    • JT says:

      The discussions around these differences have been going on since the beginning. Intellectual faith will always look for the proving, as ridiculous as it may sound the acts of faith most often fly in the face of human reasoning. If we believe that our reasoning can answer all things then why is it that we have not resolved a single sin problem since the collection of reasoning began. Faith is for me, not a question of intellect…. I realize to many this would seem a fools faith blindly following God because one either lacked reason or intellect. I would love at times to bring irrefutable proof that what I believe is true with argument… something compelling and convincing that all would see as the path to eternal destiny. I suppose if that could happen then faith would have little to do with men seeking God but rather eschewing faith out of the hypothesis, human reasoning would be the purveyor of all good and true enlightenment.

      Still, the conversations will continue in the hope that some benefit is reaped… at one end or the other. Regardless of whether someone has a similar faith to mine or not all people have intrinsic value and the relationship between people of different faiths or ideologies should continue if for no other reason than to provide opportunity to practice unconditional love. Thank You for your comment Patronus and sharing your thoughts.

      • But that leads to the question of whether unconditional love is a good thing. An argument could certainly be made that it isn’t.

      • JT says:

        it is in my opinion… of course it leads to another vicious circle of discussions 🙂

      • “vicious circle”

        😦

      • JT says:

        Donald, I hope you know that I appreciate you… I think I have a grasp of where you are coming from and you know where I am coming from and I like that we can agree to disagree. I grow weary at times of the conversations because they seem to lead back to the same place… each of us standing on our positions, not that that’s a bad thing. I like some of the unrelated things that you bring to my attention and the fact that you seem to be a genuinely caring guy. And you do spur me on to try and improve my writing 🙂

      • Well, I don’t know how much I’ve had to do with it but your writing has improved quite a bit!

        I don’t think I can agree about me arriving back at the same conclusions I already have. I believe I’m open to new ideas. For instance, I just finished reading “The Picture of Dorian Gray” by Oscar Wilde, and I consider it to be one of the most thought provoking books I’ve ever read. It deals with good and evil, self-deception, free will, the soul, and whether our personality is such that we cannot escape our fate. In other words it is a great book. I’ll be thinking about the ideas for a while.

    • Mythologist Joseph Campbell made a series of lectures titled “Transformations of Myth Through Time.” I believe for those who think they require faith in a deity, there needs to be reasonable modifications made to adapt the Scriptures to the times. And indeed that is what we see happening all through the Bible–although there is much resistance to it these days. Although there does seem to be glimmerings of hopeful signs. Perhaps it has to do with the Catholic church realizing it needs to reform itself or die out, but Pope Francis saying, Who am I to judge homosexuals? was a shocking thing to hear. In fact, I wondered if there would soon be a John Paul Francis the Second shortly after he said that (if you’ll recall they appear to have terminated, with extreme prejudice” Pope John Paul the First.).

      • JT says:

        I disagree in modifying scripture… certainly generations will see the scripture through a different lens and therefore their perceptions will take on new paradigms… the thing is when one is confronted with a wooing as it were of a spiritual calling the choice to either accept or reject that God is behind the calling… this is something that cannot be intellectualized. I believe our society is full of people trying to justify their lives in relation to their spirituality and I don’t think God is fooled. But I am no expert… and my opinion and 2 dollars will get you a cup of coffee 🙂

      • The Bible is full of instances where certain aspects of belief are tied into current events. To name just one of many, Paul who was born after Christ’s death, emphasized the profit and lose aspect in the mercantile centers that he visited.

      • Structurally, the Catholic Church has the right set up for transforming (or adjusting) scripture to meet the times. For instance, it is able to agree with the Geneva Convention and to speak out against genocide–which is something that was (according to the bible) ordered by God so that the Israelis could get more land for themselves. In the US Manifest Destiny was used as the rational for stealing other people’s land.

        But there have been many adjustments to the scriptures already that have been absorbed into the beliefs of your church. For instance, Saint Augustine’s ideas about predestination, along with other ideas of his.

        Then there are the different councels. I believe it was the Nician ciounsel that selected which books to place in the bible.

      • JT says:

        Yes I don’t disagree that there have been adjustments and trying to u.understand scripture

      • Desmond Tutu is the religious figure that I admire most–truly admire. He once said, a God like (the one the person he was talking to described) is not a God that I would want to have anything to do with. So, in one sentence he showed that he was a man, his own man, and a religious man. Besides that, he never said a single thing that I think was remarkable or noteworthy, but what he did with his life was. The Truth and Reconciliation Committee that he headed was one of the few high-water marks of the Twentieth Century.

        In other words, I think it’s possible for someone to be his own man and abide by the dictates of his own conscience without being what Christopher Hitchens referred to as “a serf.” In serfdom, someone was a nonperson and the complete property of his lord.

      • I said Paul was born after Christi’s death. I was wrong about that. He was born about the same time as Jesus.

      • Don’t mind me too much, JT. I can get very opinionated and outspoken about religion–and other stuff. I’ve grown tired of going to the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science because I think they’re just a bunch of fanatics who are a threat to Western Civilization in our war against the encroachment of Islam. Plus I get a bit rankled when they say that religion is ridiculous and has no value. A couple of days ago, I accused the moderators at that site of running a Stalinist dictatorship 🙂 hoping that it would get me banned, and thereby put an end to all the negativity. Of course they didn’t publish what I wrote, but they didn’t ban me either.

  3. I came across this on YouTube, and it reminded me of this post. A very important part in your question that gets a bit short-changed is the “knowing” part. I remember taking the quiz referred to in this clip. I think there was something like a dozen questions. I got *all* of them right. I believe it has much to do with me allowing myself to investigate everything I’m interested in unfettered. “Food for thought”

    • JT says:

      Hi Donald …sorry about my slow response I have not been on in a while and still not really feeling up to much. Interesting video, not really surprising given the basis for the study. Knowledge is a good thing and wisdom I think even better. I know hardly anything compared to what may be knowable… we all could say that I guess 🙂

      We all also put our faith in things everyday that we know little to nothing about, whether it is technology, machinery or the inner workings of human biology. Having knowledge I guess isn’t the same knowing, believing, trusting, relying on of your God… or even.. No God. It also saddens me when I see some of these polls and statistics trying to measure religion or spirituality because it my opinion it isn’t measurable and there are far to many subjective variables to try and define it.

      Anywho… I am tired so I am going to lay down, Thanks for feeding my mind and I hope you are well.

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