I’m currently reading this book by Robin Meyers. I’ve been taking the Munchkin to various different libraries in our county system to get her summer reading club passport stamped. I picked it up from the New Books shelf at one of the more distant libraries.

This isn’t going to be a book review, mostly because I haven’t finished reading it yet. The main thing to know about the book is that the author is urging a return to the early church—but not the one that has  become mired in the embroidery of history, of Constantine, and of interpretation and tradition.

One idea that Robin Meyers brings out is the tangled knitting box of the words “faith” and “certainty.” I have set myself to unraveling this for myself. I mean, isn’t faith the same as certainty? Doesn’t having faith mean you have a certainty that specific things are true? Or do we actually need to amp “faith” up a notch or two?

Meyers poses that having certainty precludes having faith. If you’re certain of something, you need have no faith in it, he says. “A person who is certain about something is a person who needs no faith whatsoever.” While not a central idea in the book and he doesn’t spend a whole lot of time on it, it’s still an intriguing notion that I’m still chewing on.

“We may not be absolutely certain about them, but we say we ‘believe’ that such-and-such is true.” Now we toss “beliefs” into the mix, as well. Meyers pries “faith” away from “beliefs,” calling the latter the problem in the church, by saying you can believe something to be true as an intellectual assent and so we make our “faith” cheap and easy by confusing the two.

So what is faith? Meyers calls it “a radical form of trust.” He goes on to say it’s the imitation of God. We’ve already thrown out belief—so it’s not the popular “believing in something with no evidence” type of thing. (Who would sanely do that?)  The Merriam-Webster includes words like “allegiance,” “loyalty,” “fidelity,” and I’m challenged to ask myself if these are part of my faith because, while I’ve grown spiritually since I walked the aisle, and “confessed and professed,” I’m not sure these aspects of faith are ones I’ve considered. Now the word gets political and social traction as in “faith-based” this or that.” Here’s something Martin Luther had to say about faith.

“The religion of Jesus is not the same as the religious systems that were later created about Jesus,”–Robin Meyers

The Underground Church touches on these ideas and has challenged my thinking. A lot of what I had been “taught” in church, it turns out was never a part of the ministry of Jesus but later additions. It’s kind of like that whole “God helps those who help themselves” which many people think is iron-clad Bible. (It isn’t. Ben Franklin said it in Poor Richard’s Almanac, 1757) “The religion of Jesus is not the same as the religious systems that were later created about Jesus,” Meyers says. Thoughts, anyone?


2 thoughts on “Faith

  1. I have considered it all myself, especially in the 21 week course I took part in entitled “Living the Questions”. Notice it’s not called “Living the Certainty”!?

  2. Lately I’ve been grappling with the concept of religious Truth, essentially looking for ways (and synonyms) it appears as a verb in our spiritual encounters. Your reflections on faith versus certainly stimulate some fresh thinking on that front. Think of “promise” as one facet here — the marriage vows, not knowing the outcome but engaging in the process, the way faith does.
    I welcome perspectives on the early church in its wide array of practice and expression. Elaine Pagels, in “Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas,” has some fascinating insights about the church before Constantine and the Nicene Council. And the early Quaker movement declared itself to be “primitive Christianity restored from before the dark night of apostasy,” which would seem to recognize this breaking point.
    I sense we have a great treasure to recover here, if we’re faithful,

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