Dabar [theme]

He shall cover thee with His feathers, and under His wings shalt thou find refuge: His truth is a shield and buckler
Psalms 91:4

Be it ours,when we cannot see the face of God, to trust under the shadow of His wings. C.H. Spugeon

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Existential Faith 1

Modern psychology deals with the issues of thought and the mind. Psychologists deal with the subconscious, in that dealing there are various lines of theory to explain the behaviour of people. The existentialist psychologists promote that existential realizations produce anxieties leading to defense mechanisms. Existential thought says that the unconscious mind is working hard at repressing and distorting the content of the subconscious that will create anxiety. In short, keeping realizations from awareness.
What are existential realizations? A brief summation is as follows;
1] I am finite - I will die, and, any choice I make negates a multitude of other choices which may have been equally as attractive or advantageous:
2] Meaning is not tied to life - there is no point to my life other than what I make of it, but even still it is nothing special, of no special significance:
3] I am free - I must bear full responsibility for my life, living only for this moment with its choices and consequences of that freedom. A German proverb says, ' He who has choice, has torment.'
4] I am alone - Only I can live my life, all other aspects of life are parasitic, or at best symbiotic.
These are the existential thoughts underlying our lives which must be suppressed by the mind in order for us to remain as functioning people in society. There reality in our lives are the impetus for the proliferation of drugs, alcohol, and yes, religion.
In the quest for a sense of self-worth and self-esteem we seek meaning and significance. Everyone whether conscious or not of it, is involved in a cultural hero mentality, which is designed to quench the existential fear which is the result of the aforementioned realizations.
The foundation of repressed thought can be found in the common fear of all people, death. In Genesis 3:2-4 we find that the first issue of appeasement when Satan confronts Adam & Eve with the temptation to eat of the Tree of life, is the issue of the fear of death. "You shall surely not die." This is the pervasive thought common to all people. All of what we think and do is based on the repression of fear. Fear causes the creation of a lie. A lie about the control we have over our lives, a lie about our ability to stand alone, when in reality we have crutches (a system, a power, a god, a team, a passion, a way of life, a religion, a faith) which keep us afloat in the stream of life. We are all desiring to forget the awful reality of life, and that it ends in death and without significance in the grand scheme of things.
It is in this chaos that faith interjects, but faith must move beyond the quenching of fear and the shoring up of life to form purpose and meaning, for this is in reality only another form of crutch, another narcotic to see us through the day, another lie denying the truth of our fear. Jesus said, " I have come to give you life, and that more abundantly."
Faith must come to a point in our life where the absolute futility, hopelessness, despair for significance. despair for meaning, our sense of lost is confronted with the reality of belief. Belief that is significant deals with the vulnerability and frailty of life (existential realizations) and positions us in a place where the motivation for faith is not a defensive posture to insure our sanity. The faith stance is not held as a denial of death but as an acceptance of its inevitability. It is here that true faith is expressed, in the state where there is no where else to turn, where the predictability of our demise is, where there is nothing left but God. It is at this point the story of the woman with the issue of blood comes to mind. In Luke 8:43,44 it is said she had spent all her money on physicians who were unable to cure, her thought was if only I may touch His garment... and Jesus said to her "Thy faith has made thee whole." She was desperate, without any other recourse but God. How many times does our faith hinge upon the fact that there are still other options available to us, that we are not in desperate need of God, that our position is still one of hope based on some circumstance or power other than God that will see us through? Even in light of the existential fears we still deny faith its place. There is no place for faith except in the destitute of heart, with the shipwrecked souls. This faith comes with a price, it requires belief that life must be lived, not in the fullness of health and vigour, but with the assumption that why should I be healthy and well without pain, loss, distress or sadness.
Back to Abraham, there he is with Issac, no lamb, walking up the mountain, a bundle of wood, a fire, a knife. Nought else but his thoughts of who he believed God to be, nought else but the firm conviction that to loose all and gain God is worth the sacrifice of his son, and Abraham believed God and it was counted to him as righteousness. How lost to the circumstances of his life Abraham must have felt when his son, no doubt doing the math, (wood, fire, knife, no lamb) asked "Dad, where's the lamb" to which Abraham replies, "God will provide for Himself a lamb."Abraham had to realize that there was no special existence or significance attached to his life outside of that which was determined by God. The promises of God were solely dependant upon God, and whether arbitrarily or not God determines the outcome of life. Life orientations must be relative to the faith of the believer and to the object of his belief. For faith to be truly authentic it must deal with the issues of existentialism, or it is just a crutch or a narcotic to be used to enable people to assuage their fears, never facing them in the light of true faith.

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