I’ve been working through my favorite author’s latest work, and recently read a chapter entitled “The Grace of Faith”. It is so rich and insightful and wonderful, that I want to share some of it with you for our Hebrews 11 reflection on faith. Actually, I’d love to share the whole awesome chapter with you, but that’d be a bit much for an email I guess. Therefore, I’ll keep it to a couple paragraphs.
Our having received the gift of faith should not lead us to complacency. We who practice religion should not consider ourselves untouched by the secular skepticism that surrounds us. Our faith, perhaps without knowing it, is not absolute. More often than not our understanding of it is qualified, partial, and undeveloped, and so our assent is incomplete. For example, we will often find ourselves buttressing our presentation of religion by appealing to its visible benefits; its works of compassion and education, its ethical and moral guidance, its role in personal well-being. So eloquent are we in religion’s defense that we may convince even ourselves that its principal value is to be found in these collateral benefits. And meanwhile we become forgetful of the “supernatural” basis of all our faith and practice.
It is possible to admire Jesus as a great teacher of wisdom and as a model of genuine humanity and, with great sincerity of heart, to become his enthusiastic followers by purely rational or historical grounds—just as some may become followers of Socrates, the Buddha, or Karl Marx. Such an adherence is not what Christian discipleship is about. Christianity is more than an identification with an admired leader; it is not merely a philosophy or a code of conduct. Authentic Christianity sees itself as a participation in the life of God through immersion in the mystery of the Word become flesh. At the heart of our adherence to Christ is a truth that surpasses human understanding, one that even we, who accept the truth, cannot fully explain. The gift of faith takes us beyond the known world into a sphere of being that transcends the power of rational thought. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1).