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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Faith Is: To believe when there is no answer

To believe when there is no answer: the first faith characteristic listed in Alton’s faith letter is perhaps the most essential one for mankind who dwells in a perpetual state of being the endless questioner.  We want ready answers and can even impatiently dismiss as irrelevant those questions that do not have them.  Certainly a key to human progress is the ability to tolerate and continue to ask open questions.  This is the heart of discovery—the ability to sustain effort even in the face of uncertainty, even mystery.  I have sometimes fantasized about being the “answer man” and have speculated on what such a talent would be worth.  In the endless, costly trouble shooting in all manner of activities what if someone could say upfront “I have the answer to that” and be right?  This would make the power of superman seem trivial.  Before almost any activity and part of any speculation is a host of questions many of them implying great effort and patience in attaining final answers.  To be effective and sustain effort it is necessary to believe even when there is no ready answer—to continue searching with an open mind in the face of mystery.  To believe when there is no answer is another way of saying we have energizing trust and assurance that there will be eventual answers.  Some questions remain open for a few hours, some for many generations.  The essential characteristic of man is to believe when there is no answer and thus continue in the pursuit.

I have seen on bumper stickers all my life that “Jesus is the answer.”  The question that produces that answer is “what would a savior look like?”  But before this answer can be appreciated one must first be posing a personal question “how can I be saved?” and a related host of other spiritual questions that only seem relevant after a certain state of mind is reached.  So while Jesus is the answer, prerequisite questions appear.  And a final question will remain open:  why ultimately is man interested in the ethical and spiritual dimension at all?  Faith is to believe when there is no answer.

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