Irenic Thoughts

Irenic. The word means peaceful. This web log (or blog) exists to create an ongoing, and hopefully peaceful, series of comments on the life of King of Peace Episcopal Church. This is not a closed community. You are highly encouraged to comment on any post or to send your own posts.


Do you believe?

Tomorrow's gospel reading is John 11: 17-44 with the story of Jesus raising his friend Lazarus from the dead. John J. Pilch of Georgetown University writes of this incident in John's Gospel,

"Through Martha, Jesus addresses believers of all times: "Do you believe this?" Her perfect answer ought to echo through the ages: "Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world."

Faith in the risen Jesus is not fully developed until it enables a believer to face physical death with the firm confidence that the present possession of eternal life is not simply a pledge of resurrection on the last day but is rather a present and continuing participation in the life of the ever-living Jesus now, at this moment. Those who believe in Jesus never truly die.What scientifically minded Western believers must recognize in the story of Lazarus is that Martha pronounces her confession of faith as a response to Jesus who reveals himself as the resurrection and the life. Her faith does not depend upon or flow from seeing her brother raised from the dead. Proof begets knowledge; faith does not rest on proof.

The insights of our prescientific Mediterranean ancestors in the faith are like Hamlet's humbling comment: "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy [or science]" (Hamlet, act 1, scene 6, line 167).
Pilch says, "Proof begets knowledge; faith does not rest on proof." Saint Anselm (1033-1109) said it this way, "For I do not seek to understand in order to believe, but I believe in order to understand. For I believe even this: that I shall not understand unless I believe."

Are Pilch and Anselm on to something? Where is the rational mind in all this? Is there any proof for faith, or are we to trust in God alone with nothing rational to support that belief?


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