Re: On Tillich

From: John W Burgeson (
Date: Tue May 27 2003 - 10:56:59 EDT

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    Dick wrote "The first phrase is 180 degrees out. Reason is the
    antithesis of faith. Why quote any further? "

    One does not have to agree with Tillich to benefit from his insights.

    Rich wrote:" I disagree completely that reason is the antithesis of
    faith. If you have no reason what is it to be faithful but a whim or out
    of fear? If you abandon the self to a greater being, understanding full
    well what you are doing, is this not a more heroic posture than if you
    didn't know what you are doing at all? "

    I find myself in disagreement with both of you. I found yesterday in the
    book EVERY EYE BEHOLDS YOU (ed by Craughwell (1998) these words from
    Karen Armstrong (in the book's introduction):

    "We tend to equate faith with believing certain things about God or the
    sacred. A religious person is often called a "believer' and seen as one
    who has adopted the correct ideas about the divine. Belief is thus seen
    as the first and essential step of the spiritual journey. Before we
    embark ... we think that we must first satisfy ourselves intellectually
    that there IS a God or that the truths of our particular tradition --
    Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu or whatever -- are valid. It
    seems pointless to make a commitment unless we are convinced about the
    essentials. In our modern, scientific world, this makes good sense. First
    -- you establish a principle and then you apply it.

    But the history of religion makes it clear this is not how it works. To
    expect to have faith before embarking on the disciplines of the spiritual
    life is like putting the cart before the horse. In all the great
    traditions, prophets, sages and mystics spend very little time telling
    their disciples about what they ought to BELIEVE. Indeed, it is only
    since the Enlightenment that faith has been defined as intellectual
    submission to a creed. Hitherto, faith ... meant trust and was used in
    rather the same way as when we say we have faith IN a person or an ideal.
    Faith was thus a ... conviction that ... our lives did have some meaning
    and value. You could not possibly arrive at faith in this sense before
    you had lived a religious life. Faith was thus the fruit ... not
    something you had to have at the start ... ."

    John Burgeson (Burgy)

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