The Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard (1814 -1855), is famous for describing faith as a “leap.” Philosopher-speak is always specialized and usually abstract. Somewhere along the way a few people added the word “blind” to “leap.” This is the opposite of what Kierkegaard was saying.
Faith according to Hebrews 11, includes “assurance” and “understanding.” In fact Kierkegaard says, “Faith must not rest content with unintelligibility; [it is] the repulsion from the unintelligible, the absurd, [that expresses] the passion of faith.” In other words, he is in accord with Anselm of Canterbury, who adopted the maxim, “I believe so that I may understand.”
There are many things in this world that are absurd — read Ecclesiastes. Better yet, look around and try to make sense of things without faith in something. Faith in God is not an ethereal abstraction that we cannot get hold of. It is not blind. It is not beyond our understanding. It seeks to make sense of things based on a belief in a God that is involved in His creation.
If we get to a point where our faith no longer makes sense, it is probably because we have put our faith in the wrong things — faith in faith, faith in doctrine, faith in politics, faith in morality, faith in trying to restore an ideal time in our lives, faith in science.
The Bible, when describing our interactions with God, uses all of our senses to produce belief. In the Old Testament there is a lot said about, “the great deeds” of God that were seen by the Israelites. We read about them in Exodus and Numbers. They are told in Nehemiah 9 and Acts 7. They are rehearsed in Psalms 105 — 107. God said to Moses in Exodus 6:1, ““Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh; for with a strong hand he will send them out, yea, with a strong hand he will drive them out of his land.”
In the New Testament, the Gospel of John is all about what the apostles had seen. This caused them to believe, and John wrote it down so we can believe, too. John 20:30-31, “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name.”
When we read about sacrifices being made to God, we read that they are a sweet smelling aroma to him. The use of the sense of smell is used to describe the work of those telling others the good news in II Corinthians 2:15, “For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.”
My experience of faith is confirmed through what I experience in life. The power of faith is that when things don’t look right, we can lean on what we have heard. When things do not sound right, we can lean on what we see. Faith is sustained on the pillars of the past and future. In the past — what we (God’s people) have seen, heard, touched (Thomas and Jesus’ scars), tasted (wine at a wedding), and smelled (sacrifices to God). In the future because we know that God is faithful to us.
Our senses experience the world through faith. The touch of a brother or sister in fellowship. The taste of the bread and wine — or the casserole at pot-luck. The sound of music or good preaching or words of encouragement. The sight of reconciliation or the change we see in others over time as they grown in faith. For me it is also the smell of wood being sawn and hammered together to build houses in Central America.
Faith is indeed a leap. It is most certainly not a blind leap. It is more like a leap from darkness to light. It is a leap to experiencing life in all of its richness, which does not mean “riches” in the way that some understand. Faith infuses all our senses with new meaning and understanding which only deepens as we live.
Faith explains why all the nonsense is quite predictable and temporary. Faith is sensical and sensual.
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