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Friday, December 4, 2015

The Many Mansions of Belief

How do you explain your way to an unbeliever? With whom will you share this good news today? (Serendipity Bible Fourth Edition, page 185).

Religion is just one aspect of belief that extends to many other areas as well. And we are frequently confronted with the question “How do we share our belief regarding any number of matters with those who do not believe?”  Our first recourse is frequently to “reason together.” We look for rational arguments to help the unbeliever understand why we believe. In our own minds our belief is totally rational, and we have no clue as to why others do not readily understand. We are mystified when confronted by the unbelief of others regarding something so clearly (in our own minds) is worthy of belief.

As incredible as it seems we can use power plays to instill belief as if that were anyway at all appropriate.  We may use force or say that a certain celebrity or person or group of authority shares our belief. This may well introduce a measure of acquiescence, but does not touch the central core matter of an inclination to disbelieve.

Finally we frequently design an “incentive package” to encourage belief. We offer candy, in one form or another, to get others to believe. They may (because of these inducements) board the gravy train, but we are delusional to fancy that this touches the long-term matter of belief.

Presently, belief is a difficult conundrum to understand or control. I come from a Christian tradition which says that belief is a gift of God bestowed by grace. In other words, all approaches fall short – reason, power, any number of enticements or incentives.  We must be content with appreciating that the underpinnings of belief are unfathomable and that we, with limited insight, must muddle through the many mansions of external beliefs.

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