Authentic Faith

“Authentic faith is no sedative for world-weary souls, no satchel full of ready answers to the deepest questions of life. Instead, faith in God revealed in Jesus Christ sets an inquiry in motion, fights the inclination to accept things as they are, and continually calls in question unexamined assumptions about God, our world, and ourselves. Consequently, Christian faith has nothing in common with indifference to the search for truth, or fear of it, or the arrogant claim to possess it fully. True faith must be distinguished from fideism. Fideism says there comes a point where we must stop asking questions and must simply believe; faith keeps on seeking and asking.” (Daniel L. Migliore, “Faith Seeking Understanding,” 3)


“Holy Discontent”

. “Holy Discontent”
Bass considers discontent as a gift, because it is “the beginning of change.” That is, “Discontent is one short step from the longing for a better life, a better society, and a better world; and longing is another short step from doing something about what is wrong. Indeed, restlessness possesses a spiritual quality: ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit,’ said Jesus, ‘for theirs is the kingdom of heaven’ (Matt. 5:3).” (Diana Bass, “Christianity after Religion,” 84)

Church Business?

Church Business?
“The religious model that once worked so well serving to educate, spiritually enliven, and socially elevate so many does not accomplish those goals as well any longer…. [C]hurch executives became too distanced from the regular folks; managers (i.e., pastors) grumbled about pay, benefits, and working conditions; creativity was strangled by red tape; expenses began to outrun income; and huge facilities needed to be maintained. Faith increasingly became a commodity and membership roles and money the measures of success. The business of the church replaced the mission of the church. Slowly, then more quickly, customers became disgruntled. Resources declined. (Diana Bass, “Christianity after Religion,” 72).

Nowadays we can hear often an expression, “spiritual but not religious.” It means that people are not satisfied with institutional religions any more but in finding “a new way of connecting with God.” (Diana Bass, “Christianity after Religion,” 68).

Religion and Context

“Religion, faith, spiritual experience, mysticism, church, theology—all these are holy things, profound ways of relating to God. Yet they all exist in the context of the world, equally as dependent on the vicissitudes of human experience as any surety of divine revelation. Religious expression is not immutable; it changes all the time. Faith roils right along with other global pressures. Christianity is no exception to the historical transformation of our times, and to view faith as either irrelevant to or outside of the purview of global cultural change is foolish.” (Diana Bass, “Christianity after Religion,” 7).


A Korea movie, “Secret sunshine,” (Directed by Chang-Dong Lee, who was the Minister of Culture in Korea, this movie won the best actress award in Cannes Film Festival 2007),
shows us a relationship between the responsibility for others and absolute faith to God. After her husband’s death, Sine goes to his hometown to live there with her son. She opens a piano institution. One day, her son is kidnapped and dies. One of the neighbors delivers God’s good news to her, so that she attends Sunday worship service, believes in God, and becomes a Christian. As time goes by, she wants to forgive the killer, so she goes to the prison to forgive him. She delivers God’s good news to him, but she finds that he also believes in God there. He says, “I am very happy to believe in God, because God already forgave me. So I pray every morning and evening. I also pray for you and will pray for you in my life.” In this case, most Christians usually must be happy and praise God because they also believe in God who changes the killer. However, she is shocked because God already forgave him before she did. She cannot understand it. She asks how God could forgive him without her permission or forgiveness, because it was her son who died.
However, is her response also proper? We must also ask with regard to the dead son: “Who really died?” It was the son, not the mother, who died. If so, is it appropriate for the mother to forgive before the dead son forgives the killer? Does she really have authority to forgive the murderer? Who has that authority? The son really has the authority to forgive the murderer, but he died. In this case who can have authority? Does God alone not have that authority? Since Jesus dies all human beings’ death including her son’s death itself, God can have the authority of forgiveness. To that extent, then, is the dead son only her son? Is he not also God’s son? If the son is also God’s child and she does not have the real right to forgive the killer, then is God’s forgiveness not possible?

“If you are the Son of God…”

1) Satan: Jesus, “If you are the Son of God… throw yourself down…. [Angels] will lift you up.” (Matthew 4)
2) People: Jesus, “save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God.” (Matthew 27)

Jesus must be the Son of God. Then, why? Why did Jesus not show his power? People think that if God wants Jesus, God will rescue him. (Matthew 27:43). But, why not? Does this mean that God does not want? We need to think about God’s power in a different way: “the self-limiting God.” Christ crucified on the cross shows us this self-limiting God who might be not only “a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles” (1 Corinthians 1:23) but also unacceptable petty weakness to even many Christians. However, this message of the cross in the self-limiting God is not foolishness but “the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18).