The tendency to equate faith with doctrine, and then argue terminology and concepts, distracts us from what faith is actually about. Faith is not a commodity we either have or don’t have–it is an inner quality that unfolds as we learn to trust our own deepest experiences.” -Share Salzberg, “Faith: Trusting Your Own Deepest Experience”
If you listen closely to those who shout that Modernism is a heresy you’ll hear my fellow Orthodox Christians as the loudest. I for one disagree with this absurdity they shout, but like anyone else we have those who like to heresy hunt. The irony is that I’ve noticed a trend of deeply-rooted Modernism among many Orthodox in their approach to faith. They demand a scientific-sureness to the faith, a type of dogmatic certainty bound by the logic of Modernism and it’s scientific approach to life and faith. There’s a deep sense of Enlightenment thinking when it comes to issues of faith and doubt within various Orthodox circles I’ve discovered, which is weird for those who denounce Modernism as a heresy, but yet want certainty in dogma and doctrine with no room for doubt.
Has anyone else who is Orthodox discovered this inconsistency? Or am I simply just imagining things?
Someone, in response to my questions about Muhammad and Islam (which I have been exploring to better understand on my own), stated tonight,
You can’t take Muhammad or the Koran at face value and be a Christian. Full stop.”
You can’t take Christ, the Gospels, the Church and NT at face value and be a Christian. Full stop! People and their fideism! Christianity isn’t a face value religion. Anyone who says so blindly accepts what is called fideism. If my anti-fideistic approach to my Christian faith makes me unaccepting of of the Church, the Creeds, the Church Councils, the Fathers, and the Scriptures then so be it. Blind acceptance of something is foolish, ignorant, and at the core the birthing of fundamentalism even if it’s Christianity. I always wrestled with faith, with Christianity, and things it says, believes, and teaches. Doubtful wrestling is a sign of faith not of unbelief!
I have not seen one thing from Orthodoxy specifically, or Christianity in general, that it has to be blindly accepted as Truth. I’m sorry, but if it did I’d certainly not adhere to that and stop questioning, probing, exploring all aspects of Christianity and my Christian faith. I’ll never accept an approach to faith that begins with fideism! Yes, I always wrestle with and struggle with my Christian faith, the notion that God became fully man while still being fully God, with the Theotokos, with heaven, with the Eucharist, with creation, with the Church, with Church teaching, etc. I don’t see 100% acceptance of something has the only way to have faith in God and His story!
Faith is not black and white!
Faith is not dogmatic certainty!
Faith is not boxes!
Faith is not doctrines!
Faith is not terminology!
Faith is not certainty!
Faith is not knowing it all!
Faith is not about being absolutely sure!
Faith is not about leaving behind doubt!
God is above our boxes of religion and the various forms they take on! For me God is bigger than the Creeds, the Councils, the Church, the Scriptures, and the Fathers; God is bigger than Orthodoxy! God is bigger than I am and the boxes into which I put Him!
I guess many Orthodox, in my experience, can’t fully let go of the Modernistic notion of certainty, but I like to take a Post-Foundationalistic and Post-Modernistic approach to my faith! My faith isn’t about knowing it all or fully accepting at every moment of everyday that what I find to be true to actually be true. My faith isn’t without doubt. My faith isn’t question free. My faith isn’t perfect, but it is open, honest, self-examining, thoughtful, and has doubt has one of its essentials. In summary, this is how I’ve come to approach my faith:
“We have to recognize that real faith has no easy answers. It’s difficult and stubborn. It involves an ongoing struggle, a continual questioning of what we think we know, a wrestling with issues and ideas. It goes hand-in-hand with doubt, in a never-ending conversation with it, and sometimes in conscious defiance of it.” -Leslie Hazleton