When There’s Nothing To Say [Questions That Haunt]

Questions That Haunt Christianity

I’ve got a different kind of answer to the most recent Question That Haunts:

Since being diagnosed with cancer six months ago, I find myself revisiting my understanding of terms like faith and hope.  Next month I preaching about faith the topic of faith.  In the process of preparing for the two sermons I am going to preach the thought occurred to me that I might benefit from other people’s insights. Here’s my question, how would you define faith? What does it mean to have faith in the midst of living your life?

I’ve got nothing to say.

As I do every week, I thought a lot about this question. I read the responses on the original post. I read up on the use of pisitis in the New Testament. I pondered a hook, to get me into the topic and launch me into a 1,000-word response (that’s what I aim for in my answers).

But nothing occurred to me. In fact, I will admit to you that I find the question almost completely uninteresting. It seems too ethereal to me. It seems like everything has already been said. It doesn’t “haunt” me, and I don’t know that it haunts Christianity.

So maybe I shouldn’t have chosen it. But I did. And there it sits, unanswered.

If anything, I pride myself on being honest, even on topics in which some of my fellow theologians hedge their bets and pull their punches. So rather than bullshit my way through an answer that both you and I would be disappointed by, I’m going to pass. If you think I’m wrong, or that I missed an opportunity here, let me know in the comments.

In any case, I’ll post a new question later this week, and I’ll try to choose one that will interest us all.

  • http://coolingtwilight.com/ Dan Wilkinson

    I appreciate your honesty…obviously it’s your choice whether you choose to respond or not.

    But I personally don’t find the question “too ethereal.” For me, what brings this particular question back to earth and grounds it in reality is the cancer diagnosis in the opening sentence. It’s one thing to talk about faith in the abstract when life is generally good, it’s another to talk about it when you’re up against that sort of wall. And, like it or not, “faith” continues to be a defining facet of Christianity, especially in dialogue with atheists: discussion about faith versus reason and faith versus science abound (though they do often become quite tedious). How we understand faith and how we live out our faith when faced with the harsh realities of life gets to the very heart of what it means to be a Christian and what it means to be a human.

    So, again, while it’s certainly your prerogative whether or not you respond to the question, I think you’re selling your readers, and yourself, short on this one! ;)

    • http://tonyj.net Tony Jones

      Dan, I realize it seems particularly callous of me to pass on a question that was birthed by a cancer diagnosis.

  • mhelbert

    Actually, I tend to agree with Tony on this one. The responses to the original question show how, maybe not ethereal, but for sure ‘nebulous’ the concept of faith can be. Take 10 people, ask them this question, get 10 different answers. Study the Greek and you’ll get some more answers. Perhaps, faith isn’t something that can be defined by language. Just maybe it’s something that needs to be seen in action.

  • http://jesuswithoutbaggage.wordpress.com/ jesuswithoutbaggage

    I did not respond to the original post; the question was too vague. However, I think it is the most important question in the world. If there is nothing to say, then I am ready to pack it in and forget the whole religion thing.

    After long years of examining my faith and discarding baggage of various kinds, I unexpectedly ran into an issue that destroyed my faith. For more than a year, I grieved the loss of God. Only then did I find another way which brought me to a more solid faith that I ever had from inerrancy and theology. That is why this is not ethereal to me; it is very concrete.
    Perhaps I am not a sophisticated thinker, but I have dealt with this issue with all my soul. In addition, I can say that I too had a serious encounter with cancer. No one expected me to survive; my doctors told me they were VERY surprised that I did. But since I had already dealt with my faith issues, I had peace in the midst of my suffering and imminent demise. This was not ethereal.

    I don’t usually post links to my blog on other blogs, but I covered My Spiritual Crisis in three blog posts beginning with:

    http://jesuswithoutbaggage.wordpress.com/2013/03/28/how-rejecting-creationism-led-to-deep-spiritual-crisis/

    I also approach it from a different angle in:

    http://jesuswithoutbaggage.wordpress.com/2013/05/06/how-is-faith-in-god-different-from-superstition/
    I apologize if I have overstepped or wasted anyone’s time.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ricshewell Ric Shewell

    I didn’t respond to the original post, but now I wish I had. I think there is a problem with the way we talk about our beliefs or our faith. Are beliefs really anything more than our thoughts? When we say “I believe,” do we mean anything more than “I think”?

    I tend to think that “I believe” and “I think” are the same. The only difference is that “I think” carries an attitude of humility and openness to public discourse, while “I believe” carries an attitude of “I have a right to my own subjectivity that is beyond the reproach of anyone else.”

    For instance, someone told me the other day that they practice Wicca, and they expected me not to laugh. But I did, because that’s ridiculous.

    And that person is my sister.

  • Lausten

    Several ways to respond to this

    It’s kinda not a “haunt”. If you don’t already have some
    form of believe in something intangible then you aren’t being much of a
    Christian anyway, you’re not in there enough to then be haunted about why you
    are there. If you’re “revisiting” the term, that’s fine, I hope the discussion
    helped.

    I love the honest answer. Apologies to Dan Wilkinson, but I
    feel much more “shorted” by an answer that forces an idea than one that admits
    some fuzziness. We’re dealing with unknowns here, not facts about accounting.

    As for your reasons Tony; I don’t get “too ethereal”, isn’t
    most of religion “ethereal”?

    • http://coolingtwilight.com/ Dan Wilkinson

      No apologies needed! ;) I would prefer no answer to a forced and insincere one.