7. Faith and the Will of God

This post is the last of a series. The previous post is titled Moving from Reason and Emotions Toward the Will of God several weeks ago. I interrupted the series for breaking homeless news September 23rd and 24th. Later, I’ll reorder them so they’re together.

I’m not going to try and define or expound on the whole nature of Faith – that gets really theological. My purpose is to orient our actions in relation to Faith.

We all have these attributes:

  • Emotion – I hurt for something more
  • Desire – I want there to be something more
  • Sense – I sense there’s something more
  • Reason – I think that there’s something more
  • Understanding – It’s clear that there’s something more

These are their weaknesses (they also have strengths)

  • Emotion – Unstable
  • Desire – Often misguided
  • Sense – Illusory
  • Reason – Limited, Inconsistent
  • Understanding – Can be deceived

Perhaps when all these are combined in their strongest forms, what follows can at best be some kind of  stability. I question though, whether that can ever perfectly come about.  They would need to be armor with no chink.

Reliance on any of our attributes alone for solutions to the instability of our lives will not succeed. Attempts to combine them just bring more complication and instability. And when our desire for answers to life’s questions bring all of them to bear, the result can be an ultimate confusion and even despair.

When we are confronted at one time by the weaknesses in ourselves, when all of our attributes are brought together at one time and come up short, (often at a moment of crisis when they all collapse at once,) what then comes, is either despair, or hopefully Faith.

Authentic Faith is more than a vague notion, mere belief or simple assent. Faith is a total surrender. But it’s not an unfounded surrender. It’s more like a drowning man thrashing about in the water finally realizing that his thrashing  about is useless, isn’t going to save him, and he’d better grab the pole offered to him before he goes to the bottom.

English: Sketch of Søren Kierkegaard. Based on...

English: Sketch of Søren Kierkegaard.

The philosopher Kierkegaard struggled with the concept of faith while wrestling with the problem of how God could ask Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac which was for Kierkegaard, an impenetrable ethical problem. God’s command was outside of Abraham’s rationality. When Abraham faithfully makes the move to sacrifice Isaac, Kierkegaard calls him “…a knight of infinite resignation.”

We come to Faith through a collapse of our attributes of Emotion, Reason, Understanding, Sense and Desire. The acceptance of Faith moves us toward the Will of God.

But Faith doesn’t leave these behind – we’re still human.

Their collapse will bring us to Faith, but their surrendered balance will enable us to live in Faith. Only when all are in balance is ideal faith possible. None of these by themselves will get us to a faith that brings us to a Will of God or even a combination of some of them.

  • Faith is not without Reason
  • Faith is not without Emotion
  • Faith is not without Sense
  • Faith is not without Desire
  • Faith is not without Understanding

When act in Faith, we act according to the Will of God.

We’ll never have a perfect Faith, because not only do we not have perfection of our limited attributes, but we will never have a perfect surrender of them.

When we look at Christ, he did. Amazingly not only did he have perfect Reason, Emotion, Sense, Desire, and Understanding, but he willingly surrendered those into a perfect Faith which brought him perfectly under the Will of God.

That’s where Grace and the Holy Spirit enters the picture. Even when our Faith falls short, God reaches to us and through Grace and the Holy Spirit, reconciles us to Him. Our Faith won’t be totally understandable to us, because God is not completely understandable to us.

However the theme of this post is not the belief or trust in God, but how we can come to a Faith that forms the basis for how we act. So to bring all this down to the practical, if we truly desire to act according to the Will of God we have to always ask ourselves whether in any circumstance, we’re acting on our own Reasoning, Emotion, Sense, Desire, or Understanding alone (or any combination,) or are we acting on a Faith that brings us in line with the Will of God?

  • If you’re acting with your own Reason alone, you’re not acting in the Will of God
  • If you’re acting from your own Understanding alone, you’re not acting in the Will of God
  • If your acting out of a vague Sense alone, you’re not acting in the Will of God
  • If you’re acting with your Feelings alone, you’re not acting in the Will of God
  • If you’re acting from your Desires alone, you’re not acting in the Will of God
  • If you’re acting with any of these in combination alone, you’re not acting in the Will of God
  • If you’re acting with all of them in combination alone, you’re not acting in the Will of God

It’s only when we act with all of them surrendered into Faith that we act in the Will of God

So to back to reference previous post about the movie The Untouchables, if you want to act within the Will of God, “what are you prepared to do?”

Are you prepared to give up the possessions you desire, the course you’ve set, the assumptions you’ve made, the conclusions you’ve come to, the judgments you’ve made?

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3 thoughts on “7. Faith and the Will of God

  1. cimcalister

    I find it interesting that you don’t include faith in your list of common attributes. I know the point of the article is to distinguish faith, but could it not be seen as yet another attribute, whether for good or ill? For example, everyone has faith in at least one thing–that there is or isn’t a God. Faith also has an inherent weakness–it can be misplaced, just as reason can be faulty. I think perhaps it’s a confluence of the attributes you list that leads to the ability to exercise proper faith. Put another way, it’s impossible to exercise faith without accounting for other factors like reason or desire, for faith can only come when the other attributes have first been taken into consideration.

    Reply
  2. Joe

    This is a slight nit, but “Fear and Trembling” was published under the pseudonym Johannes de silentio. Kierkegaard used pseudonyms to portray points of view that he didn’t hold, mostly for the purpose of trying to get through to Hegelians. The books published under his own name are quite different. Personally I don’t think Kierkegaard had the kinds of problems described in “Fear and Trembling”, as interesting as they are.

    Reply

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