Shuck and Jive

Saturday, September 08, 2007

There is a God--Bob

(Conversations with Bob! We are discussing the essentials or essence of faith. Pour yourself a sweet tea and join in! )

John, I figured I’d start with the basics. This is an essential. I believe God exists.

I could go on to list the various qualities and characteristics of God but I’ll talk about those as I talk about what I believe God has done in another post.

Grace and Peace



  1. The essence of faith for me transcends belief. “Belief has attained the level of faith when it motivates life and shapes the mode of living. The acceptance of a teaching as true is not faith; that is mere belief.” Jesus himself said many shall say “Lord, Lord,” but shall not inherit the kingdom of heaven. Salvation is a matter of living faith; not mere belief. “A state of mind attains to faith levels only when it actually dominates the mode of living. Faith is a living attribute of genuine personal religious experience. One believes truth, admires beauty, and reverences goodness, but does not worship them; such an attitude of saving faith is centered on God alone, who is all of these personified and infinitely more. always limiting and binding; faith is expanding and releasing. Belief fixates, faith liberates.” Faith sets one free to following living truth wherever it may lead. Living religious faith is a living experience concerned with spiritual meanings, divine ideals, and supreme values; it is God-knowing and man-serving.

  2. robert

    Of course there is a vital connection between faith and life. But they must interact. How we live should be determined by what we believe and how we live should affect our faith and help it to grow.

    Faith does have intellectual aspects to it as well as other aspects. When we do theology we tend to separate out the intellectual aspects. I prefer not to do that but sometimes it's the only way to talk about the intellectual aspects.

  3. Bob,

    I believe God exists as well. What do you mean when you use the word "believe."

    Is it affirm as a fact, or
    trust, or
    be-love (to use Borg's phrase) or
    all three or
    none of the above or
    something else!

  4. John

    It has to be all of the above.

    Faith is a total person thing.

  5. Bob,

    I always prefer clarity to consensus. When you say that you believe God exists, rather than playing around with the "believe" portion, drive to the heart of the matter. WHAT OR WHO IS GOD? 90+% of the American public will affirm belief in "God" and put that God in the pledge or allegiance or on our currency.

    The Christian (and Jewish) tradition has consistently said that God is an absolute personality. See if you can make that Jive with a certain colleague's panentheism.

  6. Robert,

    Thank you for this.

    "Faith is a living attribute of genuine personal religious experience."


  7. Chris, I see where you're coming from, but I feel like that cheapens faith--especially our Presbyterian one.

    I've always thought it's one of the many, many historical reasons that Presbyterianism never really caught on in America the way other denoms did (the biggest factor was the Presbys' insistence on a rigid seminary system while the Methodists and Baptists used circuit riders and other frontier-friendly evangelizing in the early days). Presbyterianism, as we have historically practiced it in the mainline church, is not fundamentalism. We don't give you a clear list of things you HAVE to believe in order to be part of the family of God. We acknowledge that we don't have all the answers but trust that there is an all-powerful God who will make sure that the metaphysical stuff is well and truly sorted out for us.

    The megachurches in particular are seductive in that they have clear lists of essential beliefs and very clear boundaries for who is included and who is excluded. We don't do that, and I'm grateful for it.

    Speaking for myself alone, I've learned to embrace the mystery, and I think my faith has become stronger because of it.


    BTW, as far as church & state goes, count me in that minority with Thomas Jefferson and James Madison! The absolute worst thing one could do to the Christian religion is get the federal bureaucracy involved.

  8. “Religion persists in spite of revolutionary changes in religious beliefs. Theology does not produce religion; it is religion that produces theologic philosophy.”

    Hi Bob,

    I agree religious experience is a “total person thing,” and that religious life cannot help but have intellectual aspects. I too believe God exists; but I recognize that my beliefs about God are relative, finite, and subject to change as I learn new facts, experience new meanings, and realize new spiritual values and choose them, remain loyal to them, and grow spiritually. Don’t confuse this last comment with relativism though; for I don’t think all beliefs about God are equal. As John notes, there is such a thing as “fantasy religion.” My religious faith is based upon personal experience, not belief, and I personally define theology -- the philosophy of religion – as an honest attempt to interpret that experience. I love science, but recognize its limits—mathematics, logic, or philosophy cannot grasp ultimate universe reality—the experience of Jesus’ Spirit of Truth; only living faith can experience this reality of the personal experience in choosing and conforming to the divine will of a personal God. “Neither science, philosophy, nor theology can validate the personality of God. Only the personal experience of the faith sons of the heavenly Father can effect the actual spiritual realization of the personality of God.” And all this transcends any beliefs about this personal God in my own experience.