Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Science of Experienced-Based Faith

“You see that a person receives God’s approval because of what he does, not only because of what he believes.”

~James 2:24 (GW).

Both of the realities above are worlds apart, even though they’re both examples of ‘faith’. It might be fair to say that an expression of good faith is the applied trust to do something in the belief (i.e. without evidence of assurance) that it is the right thing to do, without experiencing first the promise of the hoped-for outcome. Of course, that must come later.

Faith in this way requires trust, which both promises boldly yet knows no guarantees for success; only hoped-for outcomes and a vision for getting there.

The Import of Experience

One of the things to enhance trust is experience.

Take public speaking as an example. Even though we might still get a slightly dry mouth and have little doubts that we’ll stumble as we commence, enough experience of success is what gets us through the initial doubting. We say to ourselves, “I’ve done this enough to know that nerves are normal. I will be okay.”

The trust we express in our public speaking has been vindicated by the sufficient experience of success. We’ve done it successfully many times before, so future times when faith is required we feel more confident. Our faith is buoyed by our experience. Our confidence is vindicated by what we now know. In some terms we don’t need as much faith, for we know what to expect. Taking ‘the leap’ is not as risky as it once was.

Gaining Experience

Even though experience cannot be fast-tracked that much, we do all we can to gain it.

The more experienced we are in certain things the less faith we’ll need for them, but what happens is we’re climbing, and climbing requires new faith as we reach higher levels. As we reach the peak of our Everest’s the air of faith is thin at those dizzying heights. We’re gasping for the faith to get through, which is the courage to trust manifest in action.

This is a never-ending upwards-facing curve we’re on. Experience is the ticket to growth where new levels of faith are tried and are then, therefore, experienced as a result.

When people set about growing themselves they cannot avoid becoming more experienced and therefore more capable in faith. Their rewarded faith—that caused of more experience—is a modus operandi that could otherwise be called a ‘tree of life’ for them.

Elusive Faith

Faith, most of all, seems an elusive thing in this one way.

Real courageous faith is in not knowing at all how things might turn out, but via the role of virtue to know it is appropriate to do, it does anyway. Faith is risk.

This is abundantly absurd to the world. But to God it’s both prized and precious. A rare gem!

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

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