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21/11/2007

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"I guess one could say we Trust because of evidence, we have Faith despite a lack of evidence... Trust is forensic, Faith is relational!"

I am not sure that I would agree with this. Trust can, and most often is, given in the lack of evidence. You give a person, or institution the benefit of the doubt until something proves your trust wrong. We trust our spouse, until we find out they have been lying or cheating on us. We trust our bank, until our charges suddenly increase for no apparent reason. I suppose you could say that trust is based on evidence, but it is more based on a lack of conflicting evidence than a lot of corroborating evidence. Once trust is broken, then it has to be rebuilt with much corroborating evidence, but even then, the trust will remain (strong or weak) depending on the amount of conflicting evidence there is.

Our faith in God can be based on the corroborating evidence as well. God has been faithful to others in the past, and he has promised to be with us as well. Faith, I think, is holding onto trust in the face of conflicting evidence. We have faith in God, and trust him for our good, even though things do not always seem to go the way that we want them to. We do not have faith in our human leaders because we have too often be proven wrong. We can trust them only when the evidence is in their favour, but whenever it shifts, there is no faith to maintain the trust.

Possibly, though I think one trusts ones spouse because you have a shared journey... a couple doesn't usually get married straight away, there is a relationship before hand, which entails getting to know one another over time, growing together, learning if it is possible to trust each other etc. trust in financial institutions is much more about reputation, a lot of people bank with the Bank that their parents used etc. I do think in this country there is less and less "faith" in institutions like Banks, more and more peoples default position seems to be "they are out to screw us" until "proved" otherwise... likewise Governments and even individuals to some extent! Some of this is personal experience... a lot though is cultural, received knowledge.

Your second paragraph is interesting, you say "Our faith in God can be based on the corroborating evidence as well. God has been faithful to others in the past, and he has promised to be with us as well" hmmmm that seems to imply a preceding faith to me... i.e. could one attribute the things you mention to a God if one did not have some belief in a God? i.e. if I witness someone "blessed" how do I determine in my own mind whether that can be attributed to "God" or to "Luck"? i.e. does our interpretation of the evidence depend on our own framework of belief?

I agree that in part Faith is about holding on to trust despite things not always working out the way we hope/want... hence I say faith is more relational... trust in this case follows Faith. I think this also applies to the two things you mention, Spouses and Banks... taking the latter, if people feel treated as a person not just a commodity they will feel good about their bank even if the charges are not the cheapest on the market... same with things like Garages... People are happy to pay more/put up with things if there is some sort of relationship more than client/provider... perhaps this leads on to where my thinking aloud was taking me, we sometimes speak about trusting God in terms of Client/Provider instead of faith being the start of a relationship from which trust grows?

You say "We have faith in God, and trust him for our good, even though things do not always seem to go the way that we want them to. We do not have faith in our human leaders because we have too often be proven wrong. We can trust them only when the evidence is in their favour, but whenever it shifts, there is no faith to maintain the trust." I agree, to some extent that is what I was playing with... that if we "sell" God on the basis of "Trust in him and all will be well" then when things do not go "well" what is left? If we start with Faith - hope and relationship, not expecting things to "always go well" then we have a stronger foundation... unfortunately I (and I'm sure others have too) seen far too many Churches and too much Evangelism built on "God will make it all right"

Chad, I should also have said, thanks for commenting! From time to time I post these "stream of consciousness" posts, where I haven't sat and written an essay then cut'n'pasted it into a Blog post, but typed it live as it where... so it's a conversation rather than a polemic!

I think we are basically on the same page. When we begin with Faith, then we can weather the storms that inevitably come. After all, at the end of the sermon on the mount, Jesus said the storms would come, not that they might come.

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” (Mt 7:24-27)

May we present God's Word so that people build on a foundation of rock, and not sand.

Indeed... thanks for joining in with my convoluted meanderings!

Not sure I can add to the theological discussion here, but at a practical level and from personal experience it is worth noting what impact the erosion of trust has on the ability to have faith. We talk about people have a crisis of faith and I suspect that somewhere in the background this has been triggered by a trust having been lost - either in a person or in God.

If Christ has no hands but our hands and those hands fail to love me then I can begin to doubt my faith due to that loss of trust. We may not be talking about logical thought here, but emotion & experience.

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