Saturday, October 10, 2009

Planting my butt in the chair

Karen Armstrong on "faith":
It was only in the late 17th century that 'belief' came to mean an intellectual assent to a rather dubious proposition. Just look up 'belief' in a good, historical dictionary!

At this time, truth was becoming more notional in the scientific West. We were losing the more traditional form of faith which saw religion as a practical activity. Like driving, swimming, dancing or gymnastics, you learn the truths of faith only by constant, dedicated practice - not by reading texts or adopting a metaphysical 'belief'. Like a myth, a religious doctrine is essentially a program of action. It makes no sense unless it is translated into practical action that helps you to dethrone egotism, selfishness and greed by practicing compassion to all living beings. In the book, I try to show how doctrines like the Incarnation or Trinity were originally a summons to selflessness and compassion and that we only discover their truth by making these qualities a reality in our own lives.

Read the whole article here.

My professor of Hebrew Scripture, back in my Baptist seminary days, told us that the biblical notion of faith was not intellectual assent to the proposition that a chair would hold me, it was sitting in the chair, committing myself in the most practical manner. It was thus about how I lived and where I made my commitments and not about my abstract belief system.

Karen Armstrong is attempting to remind us all of this. Hooray for her.

--the BB

1 comment:

Göran Koch-Swahne said...

This change can be seen in the 1694 Handbook where Tro very clearly means Trust, not Truth. Whereas in later books Tro has been emptied of meaning, to be point of becoming unintelligble.