The Faith Dilemma

Reverend Rudyard Harrison

Faith is probably the most preached about subject because it is probably the most difficult subject to grasp.

Those seeking faith are often caught on the horns of a dilemma. Do they choose blind faith or blind unbelief?

Do they throw their weight in with those who require blind faith in religion, or do they back those who require blind unbelief based on science?

Maybe their thinking bounces like a ping pong ball between these two opposite extremes?

But surely there are other options?

Surely those seeking faith aren’t doomed to be snared on the horns of a dilemma?

Interestingly, blind faith and blind unbelief have two things in common; fundamentalism and laziness.

Vladimir Putin is a political fundamentalist; he is hell bent in his pursuit of more territory in a vain attempt to restore Russia’s former glory.

He is unwilling to engage in the time consuming task of building a nation of peace.

Similarly, a person who is continually “looking to God for answers” may be sincere, but may also be sincerely lazy.

The late author and psychiatrist, M Scott Peck, said that everyone is basically lazy.

In truth, it may seem easier to pray for things than to do some serious homework. Scotty found faith in his forties after a long period of sifting through the merits and demerits of several world views.

In my experience, finding faith is a bit like trying to grab hold

of a wet bar of soap in the bath… Just when you think that you’ve got it, it slips out of your hand.

The journey to faith isn’t easy. It’s full of false starts. Just when a particular religious teaching seems to make sense, a more satisfying explanation may present itself.

Faith comes in small increments as a direct result of the examination of theory and a critical reflection on practice. For me the greatest puzzle concerns the course of events in life, in other words, why do things happen?

Are we here for a definite purpose? Do we all have a blueprint for life?

Are we born into a specific culture, race, religion or country for a particular reason? Do we experience triumphs or disasters in accordance with a prearranged schedule?

Do we believe those who maintain that everything happens for a purpose because God is in control? Who claim that there are no coincidences, only God incidents.

Or do we accept that natural events, coincidences, random, Murphy’s law and chance are part of the very stuff of life. That sometimes things just happen for absolutely no reason.

In the end I wonder whether it matters if events are the result of chance or some divine plan.

Things happen, and how we respond to these things is what really matters. How we deal with fortune or disaster is what counts.

Do we fight, take flight or freeze? Do we try until our last breath to make this world a better place, a place of peace and harmony, or do we sit back and continue playing games on our phones?

John, in his first letter, says (in summary): “The true test of faith is love for each other. “If we say that we love God and don’t love each other, we are liars. We cannot see God. So how can we love God, if we don’t love the people we can see.”

The Dalai Lama says: “There are over seven billion people on earth and we are all the same (all same). When I am tempted to feel special, I look at the people around me and say to myself, I am the same (I am same). There is no difference between us! And I am humbled and encouraged to carry my burden with joy!”

Peace, Shalom, As-Salaam!

* Rudyard Harrison is a retired Methodist minister in Somerset West.