Saturday, October 16, 2010
Robert Leiste, pastor, Redeemer Lutheran Church, 2700 Lawrence Ave.:
Has my faith changed? In a way, no, my faith over time has not changed. I call this the heaven to my side. The faith that God the Holy Spirit created in through the waters of baptism, that save is the same. It is a perfect faith that believes in and grasps the promises of God and the salvation offered in Jesus Christ. That faith which is presented before God through the redeeming work of Jesus brought about by the Spirit of God has not changed.
On the other side, though, this human “worldly” side, yes, in a way, the faith has changed. One way is that my knowledge has grown through a deeper understanding of God’s word. My faith has been tested by the trials of this world and as a result been strengthened like a muscle that has been exercised. So, it has also grown. My faith also has been blessed by experiencing the goodness of God so I am able to trust even more strongly.
At the same time, the faith granted me has been tested, even bruised, by temptations and trials I have gone through these years of my life. Sometimes it seems like my faith has been weakened by them. At other times, though, I can sense a stronger faith as I have gone through the valley of the shadow and come out the other side wiser, more mature and the better believer for it. I know that all of this is because Jesus, who has begun this good work in me, is not finished in me, and he will see me through this world and into the next by his grace through the faith I have been blessed with.
— Send e-mail to Robert Leiste at email@example.com.
Rabbi Neal Schuster, senior Jewish educator, KU Hillel, 722 N.H.:
What exactly do we mean by faith? Is it our religion? Is faith our explanation of what we believe in? Or is our faith the trust and hope that what we believe in is actually true?
Rabbi Leo Baeck is often quoted as saying, “Through faith man experiences the meaning of the world; through action he is to give to it meaning.” While Baeck’s emphasis on the power and importance of our actions is a quintessentially Jewish perspective, he does not dismiss faith as irrelevant, but its relevance, at least for me, has very little to do with the conventional notion of faith as belief in God.
If I must speak of faith in the sense of belief, I would speak of it this way: I have faith that there is meaning to be found and experienced in the world; I have faith what I do and how I treat people matters; and, perhaps most importantly, I have faith that this world can be better than it is and that we have the power to make it so.
As for faith in God: Who knows? If there is a God, and that God pays attention to us and cares about what we do, then it seems very clear that God does not want us to live with absolute or constant certainty about God’s existence and nature. We live our lives in a state of ultimate, existential uncertainty. We may yearn to know ultimate truths, but, in some ways, absolute certainty could be even more crippling than uncertainty and striving to find meaning. If, indeed, there a God who cares what we do, then uncertainty is a gift, allowing us to be like God by trying to fill this life and this world with meaning crafted by our own hands.
— Send e-mail to Neal Schuster at firstname.lastname@example.org.