Thursday, February 28, 2013


What is faith?

I have been avoiding this word in the thesis because it is too often used as a bit of a catch-all phrase. It could mean a set of believes or doctrinal affirmations, it could mean some sort of commitment to God or to the Church, it would mean some quality of spirituality that is not readily measurable, it could mean a combination of these things and more.

Sometimes we like to talk about "the faith" as being this monolithic ideal that we can simply appeal to without qualification. Such as when we talk about someone being a "hero of the faith". It could mean that they were a hero within the Christian religion, but more likely we name them a hero because they seem to embody something of our ideologies and desires. The term faith seems simply too loose to use in academic writing.

Yet, I find myself writing down this word all the time when I do my initial drafts. Mostly I just figure out what use I mean in that instance and pick a different word. But why is it such a go to word? Why can't I shake it? I do think that the term itself is useful.

I've spent some time in the past defining faith in particular ways. Appealing to the Bible and making a case for a particular understanding. I think this tactic would work except that every time I read the word in other contexts I realize that there is a whole package of meaning behind it just as particular as the one I want to imply. I'm not sure I'll give up the practice, but it is a good reminder that words are funny creatures.

So as a thought experiment I put the question to you: what is faith?

Maybe we'll spark a lively debate, but I think the real insight will be how varied and yet specific our ideas a faith are.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


Some evangelicals have a funny relationship with history. Recently I heard the old trope, "we know what happens at the end of the book." It is a saying that means the person believes that the book of Revelation has summed up what the end will look like so we do not really need to be that concerned about the present. Ahistoricism is a lack of concern for history, tradition, and temporality. It is not anti-historical, some evangelicals are quite certain the time and history exists - despite the abusive re-readings they often do. But they just don't think that what happens here and now is the point. This kind of thinking is both a recent development within Christian eschatology and it is one of the big reasons that evangelicals suck at social amelioration.

Yeah I said suck.

I wish it were not the case because I actually believe that the gospel is supposed to be good news for all of creation. That the gospel has something to say to injustice and evil as it is experienced in the here and now. I actually believe that Jesus is the answer - I'm just not so convinced that enough evangelicals have been asking the right question to which Jesus has the answer.