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31 October 2018

Blind faith: Those who say “we see,” and don’t.

When faith isn’t based on anything or anyone trustworthy.

Whenever pagans talk about faith, their usual definition of the word is “the magical ability to believe goofy nonsense.” You know, stuff people really shouldn’t believe.

In some cases stuff that’s dangerous to believe. Fr’instance antivaxxers. They believe vaccines cause autism, or contain poisonous chemicals, or believe they’re otherwise harmful. Hence they refuse to get their kids vaccinated. I’m not quite sure what it says about them, that they’d prefer to see their kids dead than autistic… but it’s nothing good. What I do know is, thanks to them, childhood diseases which should be a thing of the past, are back—and posing a grave danger not just to their children, but to other children with compromised immune systems, or for whatever reasons can’t be vaccinated. Their belief in goofy nonsense is deadly.

So yeah, if this what you think “faith” means, of course you’d think it wrong. Even evil.

But it’s not at all what Christians mean by faith. By faith we mean complete trust or confidence in something or someone. We Christians have (or are trying to have) complete trust in Jesus: We believe what he tells us about God. We’ve seen things which indicate he’s worth our trust.

Well, unless we haven’t. Then, what we have—and this is the proper term for it, even though most people think of it as a negative thing—is blind faith, the complete trust in something or someone despite an utter lack of evidence.

And everyone practices blind faith, to a degree.

Yep, even pagans. When they walk into an unfamiliar room, one they’ve never been in before, how do they know the floor’s solid? Well they don’t. They’ve assumed—and are kinda taking it for granted—that the folks who built the room didn’t make the floor out of balsa wood or cardboard. That the building inspectors actually made sure the floor is solid. That building inspectors even saw this floor. We take a lot of such things for granted every day. We kinda have to; we don’t have time to test every little thing, and we’re seen as needlessly paranoid if we do. Blind faith saves time.

Children especially. They trust their parents. Should they? Not always; I’ve seen some really awful parents. But they haven’t yet learned to confirm things, double-check things, test things, ask questions. (Some never do learn how.) They just believe what they’re told, ’cause they assume adults know what we’re talking about. Again, not always. But again, blind faith saves time.

And new Christians especially. They don’t know anything about God, and are trusting their churches to introduce them to him. Some churches do, and do a great job of it. Some churches do a sloppy, negligent job of it. Some churches are heretic, and get God horribly wrong; others are cults, and turn people into slaves instead of Christ-followers. But in the good churches, much of what they’re doing is replacing blind faith with informed faith. Like the Samaritans after they met Jesus.

John 4.42 KWL
The other Samaritans told the woman, “We no longer believe because of your say-so; we’ve heard him.
We realize this is truly the Christ, the one who saves the world.”

They first came to check out Jesus because she said, “Come see a person… it’s not Christ, is it?” Jn 4.29 Turns out it was. Once they spoke to him for themselves, they knew for sure. And that is what our churches need to do for us: Introduce us to Jesus, and let us see for ourselves. Not keep us in the dark, trusting our teachers instead of Jesus, hoping it’s true, but with nothing but blind faith.

Blind faith and blind guides.

Much of the reason a lot of people practice bad faith, is they’ve put their trust in the wrong someone or something.

Most of the time they’ve put their trust in a moron: Someone who doesn’t know what they’re talking about, doesn’t know they don’t know what they’re talking about, but sound mighty sure of themselves, and convince many. I’ve met various pagans who consider themselves “spiritual,” who practice all sorts of things which they think plugs ’em into the spirit world. But they don’t know the difference between spirit and emotion, and what they’re actually doing is getting themselves to feel. Which feels like a big deal! Ordinarily they suppress their emotions, and letting ’em out feels profound. Still not spiritual though. Yet neither they, nor their “spiritual” guides, know what “spiritual” means—so what we’ve got is a classic case of the blind leading the blind. They’re gonna fall in a hole, Jesus warned; Mt 15.14 neither knows what they’re doing!

Other times they’ve put their trust in a charlatan. A number of fake prophets don’t realize what they’re really practicing is mentalism. And a number of ’em are fully aware that’s what they’re doing—and do it anyway. Because it encourages people, they claim. But really it’s because they get off on making people feel good. And sometimes they really do swindle money from, or wield power over, unsuspecting Christians. Regardless of their motive or “good intentions,” they’re leading Christians the wrong way. But y’know, if these Christians would quit slacking on out responsibility to test prophets, they wouldn’t get steered wrong.

See, that’s ultimately the problem with people who get conned by fake prophets or fake spirituality: Their bulls--t detectors aren’t working. They’ve been switched off! People want a God-encounter so badly, wanna feel awe and wonder so desperately, they’re willing to settle for fraud. It’s pretty messed up, but it’s a lot more common than people realize. When they’re not sure they can find solid faith, they figure blind faith will do.

And it should never do. Test everything!

Yeah, some Christians are really nervous about investigating their faith: They worry they might discover all this time they’ve been believing hogwash. They want so badly to be right—even though we’re wrong!—they’d rather be blind. Thing is, God loves ’em too much to let ’em stay blind. At some point he’s gonna seriously rattle that blind faith. (Hopefully not with a health scare or a loved one’s death, but both these things happen to everyone, y’know.) And either they’ll exchange their blind faith for real faith… or they’ll switch off their brains entirely. Or quit.

But God doesn’t care to leave us with blind faith. He wants us to love him with all our minds, Mk 12.30 and that means with reasoned, thoughtful faith. He wants us to trust him for solid reasons. Unshakable reasons. Not brain-dead ones. Blind faith sets us up for being tricked or led astray. Solid faith has Jesus as its cornerstone.

Blind, yet “we see.”

Like I said, we’re wrong. But various Christians are pretty sure we’re not. They think we’re right; that once we turn to Jesus and get the Holy Spirit, all our thinking magically turns Christ-like, and we’re not wrong anymore. Instead of no longer trusting ourselves and following Jesus, they imagine we’ve become innately right: “I was blind, but now I see.”

The Pharisees thought the very same way. It’s why Jesus called ’em blind.

John 9.39-41 KWL
39 Jesus said, “I came into this world to provoke judgment.
Thus those who can’t see may see—and those who see may become blind.”
40 Some of the Pharisees with Jesus heard this and told him, “Surely we’re not blind too?”
41 Jesus told them, “If you’re blind, you didn’t sin! But now you say ‘We see!’—so your sin stays on you.”

We gotta stop presuming we’re right! We gotta stop having blind faith in ourselves! We’re wrong. Jesus is right. Follow Jesus.

We’ve also gotta stop putting our faith in our echo chambers. People feel most comfortable when surrounded by like-minded people. That’s the sort of friends we pick: People who think like we do, challenge our convictions very little, and tell us what we want to hear. Not just about God, but everything: Politics, sports, money, patriotism, race, gender rules, music and entertainment, food. Some of us spend all our time among such people. It’s why you can find so many people exclaiming, every election, “How on earth did that other guy win? Everybody I know—everybody with sense!—voted for our guy!

The problem with echo chambers: You never get your beliefs challenged. Not even by the Holy Spirit, who’s trying to remind us: We’re wrong. Jesus is right. Follow Jesus!

Instead the Spirit gets drowned out by our echo chambers, and our blind faith in all the yes-men who live in ’em, telling us, “You’re right. Others are wrong, and stupid, so don’t listen to them. Never analyze your beliefs; they’re sound. God’s on our side.”

Inside the echo chamber we can find all sorts of apologetic arguments for our side, developed by people who have a vested interest in being right; not so much in truth itself. They’re not always logical, but it’s not like we care: We’re right, they’re wrong, and now all we gotta do is convince ourselves they’re wrong—and for extra credit, stupid.

But a Christian’s loyalty should never be to a comfortable belief. It should only be to Jesus. Who is truth Jn 14.6 —and every form of truth should be what we truly seek comfort in. Not comfortable beliefs, not iffy “facts,” not fake news, not unsubstantiated claims. The “real thing” in the echo chamber isn’t always the real thing. Step out and seek the real thing. Stop claiming, without proof, you can see.