Friday, August 11, 2006

I Believe

Is there a difference between what I "believe" and what I "know" in terms of my faith walk? What does it mean to say that "I believe" in God? Is it just He is invisible that makes my "knowing" him "believing" in Him? Or is it a matter of the quantity of faith -- is believing just a lesser version of knowing? I don't know.

And how does the phrase "I believe in God" correlate with phrases such as "I believe in higher education" or "I believe in fastening my seat belt?" The syntax of those sentences are identical, but the implications of them are radically different. These are not statements about the existence of the item in question -- does anyone not think higher education or seat belts actually exist? -- but are statements about the quality/efficacy of the items in question. But the statement "I believe in God" is slippery, because is can be a statement about the existence of the item in question (God) but can also be a statement about the characteristics of the item in question (God).

When others say "I believe in higher education" or "I believe in seat belts," I have a pretty good idea of what they mean, but when someone says "I believe in God," I have no idea what they mean. That phrase has become so amorphous that it can mean a million different things. How do I know what I mean when I say it?

Is it simply a limitation of language? Or is something more subtle, some limitation of our understanding of the very concept of God?

3 comments:

Cami said...

That is soooo true. Thank God He is a righteous judge; He knows the innermost motive of every heart. Otherwise, people would be right in their excuse that the hypocrisy of others that claim to believe in God have kept them from God. Doesn't mean I like hypocrisy! "Believe" should mean that we fully embrace and put into practice what we say we believe in.

Francine said...

Better late than never ... right? I finally have some time to visit your blog and read your entries. I've thoroughly enjoyed each and every one ... especially the diversity of the subject matter.

You bring up a good point in the explanation of "I Believe." Your words made me think and I agree ... the statement of "I believe," can have so many meanings. I guess that's why those "national polls" show such a high percentage of "Christians" here in the U.S. I humbly suggest that their definition of "I Believe," falls into the category of seat belts, etc.

Great work. I look forward to visitng again.

I.I. said...

thanks for visiting, ladies. I appreciate your comments.