Thursday, September 15, 2005

Bad Faith vs. Good Faith

I'm fleshing out my message for Sunday so let me use you as my guinea pig! Brian Mclaren (see post below about the book "Finding Faith") says that the number one enemy of true faith isn't atheism or false religion but bad faith, that is, bad examples of what it means to know and/or follow God.

It's easy to take pot-shots at the big hyocrisy of others; the Crusades, the foolish and corrupt TV evangelists or the child molestation cases among priests and other ministers. But bad faith is more pervasive and subtle than that. Let me list six contrasts between bad and good faith.

Unquestioned Authority vs. Mutual Respect. Bad faith is final. It's set in stone. There is little or no mystery to God. It's been disected and labeled so that there is no longer a reason to think or question. That's all been done for you by people much wiser and more spiritual. But good faith allows questions because it knows that God is bigger than any box you can put him in. Questions enlarge our view of God and makes him even more worthy of praise. Plus, questions make sure that our faith is good, that we haven't overlooked something or assumed something or taken things for granted. A questioning faith is what keeps faith fresh, authentic and true. Good faith respects, honors and encourages the right of people to think their thoughts and hear from God, not just parrot the thoughts of others.

Forced Choice vs. Free Choice. Bad faith has a surprisingly low view of God. Bad faith doesn't think that God can speak to people, or at least that people don't have the ability to hear from God when he speaks. It doesn't believe what Jesus said, that "My sheep hear my voice" and "I will send my Spirit to lead them into all truth." Because of this, bad faith feels compelled to coerce people into their way of thinking. They would confess, "Yes, it's a bit manipulative but it's really for their own good. They'll thank us some day!" But good faith, though passionate and directive, leaves the choice to the individual. Each person is responsible to God alone, which frees good faith from the burden of having to make sure that everyone does the right thing all the time.

More later...

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