What Do Religious Leaders Really Mean by Faith?
Religions could greatly help themselves by clarifying this.
I’ve thought for a long time that the majority of churches and preachers don’t truly support people having faith in God. Instead they’re looking for people who put a smile on their faces and say that they have faith.
To me, having true faith in God means something like my friend Josh, I remember from long ago who jumped off a bridge because Jesus asked him to prove his faith. No doubt the vast majority of religious leaders, however, would have tried to talk him out of it, saying that it couldn’t actually be God talking to him.
When a religious person needs to cross a road, they do not close their eyes and pray. Instead, they conduct a simple scientific experiment by looking both ways.
Religious individuals may use faith to decide on political issues that don’t directly affect them such as abortion or gay rights, but otherwise, in their day to day lives, the vast majority of religious people use science and logic far more than they use faith to make their decisions.
So what I believe many religious leaders mean by ‘faith’ is not really the idea that you should trust that God has a physical manifestation in your day-to-day life, or even in your life at all, but instead they’re promoting the idea that you should have faith that ‘it will all work out in the end’ and that ultimately there’s a purpose to all this. Ultimately, they’re simply asking us to not be sad, stressed or angry, and remember that we deserve to feel loved. However, this is contradictory to many religious texts that depict agents of God directly interacting with humans and affecting the outcome of events. It’s easy for a person to become confused and hear all those messages about the importance of faith and believe they mean the kind of faith my friend Josh had.
One main problem is that many religious folks don’t realize just how deep some people’s faith really lies, because people so rarely discuss the nitty-gritty process of individual decision-making processes. For example, like I said, most religious individuals when buying a car will test drive and read consumer reports and make an informed, reasonably logic-based decision, but there is that two or three percent who will go to the dealership and buy whatever car happens to speak to them because they believe God will put them in the right vehicle. This is not healthy and I believe religious leaders should be doing more to clarify the differences in types of faith, and reminding people that just because they have faith, doesn’t mean that logic doesn’t have a place in their lives.