About us
home page forums

Faith in God

Life itself presses the question: What awesome reality swallows up all our human efforts? What dread power overwhelms our gods, what dooms our best causes to frustration and failure? Call it fate or "reality" or just "the way things are." Call it what you wish, but recognize that this is in one way or another the final reality to which every man is accountable. Suppose we do not even attempt to give this reality a name. Let us call it merely "X." Let us speak only of the unknown void out of which all things come and the unknown future into which all things return. Call it the "out of which" and the "into which." Call it the source and end of all things, the original and final word about life. Call it whatever you wish, but acknowledge that it is there, and against it there is no defense. Man's life is lived within a great parenthesis in which all created things are enclosed and circumscribed by this final reality.

The Slayer of Our Gods. The Judeo-Christian tradition has come to understand this slayer of their causes in a wholly surprising way, as faithful to them. They witness to this final enemy of our causes as having made itself known as ultimate friend! The confidence of this community has come to cling not to creaturely goods or finite causes, but to that enigmatic reality from which all our values come and into which they all return. Amazingly, they have stood aface this destroyer of all things to celebrate: "Though he slay me, yet will I trust him". Strangely as it may seem, they have come to put their final reliance, not in limited values that pass away, but precisely in this opponent of our values, this antagonist of our gods! This community has learned to love this final reality as a lover thinks of his beloved, and to celebrate all lesser loves in relation to this final love.

To have confidence in this one is to understand that all other confidences are rooted finally in despair. To trust in this one is to trust in one who stands on the far side of all our anxieties and guilts. To obey this one is to respond freely to the self-disclosing now, to receive its limited value, but without pretending that any historical good is the final good.

But what enables this terrifying destroyer to be recognized as friend? It does not happen without a deepening of human awareness, through which man becomes increasingly awake to his vulnerabilities and value negations. It does not happen without a struggle of reason and conscience, wherein man discovers the phoniness of his gods and the way in which they tear him apart.

Faith in this one is not self-generated or merely fabricated out of the deprived longings of one's own experience. Faith in God is possible only as a response to his concrete self-disclosure. Radical confidence in this enemy of our gods may have occasional manifestations apart from the story of Israel, but this community remembers it as having been prototypically given in certain events through which the meaning of the whole of history is clarified.

Since faith in God has the character of response to God's action, this community does not say that faith is something men ought to have, but rather that when it is given it is an imcomparable gift, a treasure hidden in a field, for which one might sell all that he has in order to enjoy that prize.

Reference: TSOA, p. 239-240.