"Trust is not 'blind faith'. Trust comes over time, and is built up as people show that they can be relied on. And so, if we trust someone, we have some kind of evidence that they can be relied on. It's no different with God. God has shown throughout history that He can be relied on, and that He always has our best interests at heart. He never lies, and He never breaks promises. When He asks us to trust Him, it's based on His unfailing record of perfect love and keeping promises." - Rupert Lineage
Faith is not something that comes easy for me. I naturally question everything, even myself, so it is natural for me to question God too, even now that I follow God. I suppose I'm a bit of a Job, or at least a Thomas in that respect.
My mother, when she gets to reminiscing, often tells the story that one of my favourite words as a child was "why?" and how I wore her out with it. So it may not surprise you then to hear I have little patience for "blind" faith. For faith that never asks "why?" I can be as contemptuous of blind faith as a hardened atheist. That's something I have to watch, I know. Contempt is not a virtue. Nevertheless I confess this so that you know where I'm coming from. Faith is something that's come upon me unnaturally. Faith has come through finding God trustworthy even when I didn't expect it.
You know what though? It means that God never ceases to surprise me, never ceases to limitlessly exceed my limited expectations. Take the healing I witnessed a few years back. On one level, of course I know God heals. Nevertheless, when he healed the gangrenous and soon-to-be-amputated hand of an addict friend of mine, when another friend and I prayed over it, it felt surreal. I felt like Thomas exclaiming, "My Lord and my God!" or "Lord I believe, help me in my unbelief!" Nevertheless, my experience that God can be expected to surprise me gives rise to an unshakable faith. He will keep surprising me, because he has reliably proven himself so surprising so far!
But enough about me, what's your experience of faith? Has faith ever seemed illusive? Do you find faith compelling? Has your ability to entrust yourself to the transcendent, to risk yourself to the transcendent, grown through experience? Do you see strength in a vulnerable faith?
Many of my friends will be familiar with my "Baby Test" for Christian worship music. It was inspired by the Southpark episode "Faith + 1" where Catman puts together a Christian worship band to milk the Christian music market on the premise that all you really had to do was replace the word "Baby" with "Jesus" in any pop love song.
So my test is this: if we can reverse engineer Cartman, if a worship song can be collapsed into a secular love song simply by removing the names and titles of Jesus and inserting "Baby", if the Christian content is otherwise negligable, YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG!
So with that in mind, just take a look a what this church does with "You Spin Me Right Round" and compare it to the Dead or Alive version. Head slap. I'm wondering if they do Justin Bieber as an encore. Like Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Oh!
Michael Bird has posted a great summary of the "new perspective on Paul" over at Euangelion (see part 1 and part 2), but the new perspective I personally find most significant is this:
Justification has a horizontal dimension. Justification is clearly vertical and declares one’s right status/standing before God (e.g., Rom 5:1, 8:1), but also declares that a person is a member of the messianic community, the Israel of God. Note that the first thing imputed to Gentile believers in Romans is “circumcision,” i.e. covenant membership (Rom 3:26). Jesus was cursed on the cross so that the blessing of Abraham would come to the Gentiles (Gal 3:14). The first implication that Paul draws after Eph 2:8-10 is not sanctification, but the unity of Gentiles with Jews in the commonwealth of Israel defined by the Messiah (Eph 2.11ff).