7 Incomplete Ideas That Hijack Faith
and How to See Beyond Them
By Darrell Smith
While the loud voices at the margins adamantly declare faith either completely irrelevant or capable of being contained in one narrow ideology, most people get lost in the mix, feeling no certainty or comfort in either direction. Faith Lies deconstructs the terrible notion that faithlessness and fundamentalism are our only options.
Faith Lies is not an attack on the church or religion. It is an honest, experiential, and reflective dialogue about very sensitive ideas—ideas that should lead us to freedom and love but instead often, in our misunderstanding, yield to division and isolation.
Faith Lies is a street-level theology book for people who are noticing cracks in the foundation of their existing understanding as well as those who feel they have been hurt or discarded by a God and a faith that just does not make sense.
Author, Heart and Mind: The FourGospel Journey for RadicalTransformation
THE 7 INCOMPLETE IDEAS
LIE 1: The Bible is Only the Literal Word of God
The Bible is not the written record of God’s dictation. God was most certainly the inspiration for the Bible, but not the medium. People were the medium—they did the storytelling, the writing, the selecting, and the interpretation that resulted in the Bible. The Bible is not God’s Bill of Rights and Constitution. Rather, it is a divinely inspired story of progression that should open things up rather than constrict and regulate.
Instead of perceiving God as a loving parent, many of us understand God as a cosmic scorekeeper, intent on our purification. Understanding God as a loving parent not only requires a reframing of our perception of God but also invites us to see each other and ourselves as beloved children.
This is the bad idea that the Bible presents a continuous, consistent narrative about the devil. It simply does not. Moreover, when we string together what we actually have--disparate statements about satan made by different people, from different places, languages, cultures, and times--we arrive at the strange notion that there is a “good” god who is responsible for the “good” things in our lives and a “bad” god (satan) who handles the “bad” stuff.
LIE 2: God is Angry and Doesn’t Like Me - Especially When I Sin
LIE 3: The Devil is God’s
LIE 4: I Am Supposed to Protect and Defend God and My Faith
There are real tensions and conflicts around the globe today that are built on the notion that as people of faith, one of our jobs is to defend our faith or our God. Rather than settling for a god who needs our protection, we can follow the powerfully divine thread of moving “beyond the tribe” that is found throughout the Bible.
LIE 5: There is One Right Way to Believe and One Right Way to Behave
One of the root lies of fundamentalism--in all faiths--is the notion that true faith is defined by believing the right things and acting the right way. Isn’t it more likely that we are all part of a diverse creation that flows from a God that cannot be contained by any one belief or behavior?
LIE 6: Faith is a Private Matter
Much like whom we voted for in the last election or how much money we make, people have wrongfully accepted the idea that faith is a private matter and not to be shared with others. The spiritual life has always been a communal life. We require others to undertake our journey, and others need us, too.
LIE 7: Real Faith is Blind Belief
The idea that true faith has no doubts or questions creates a powerless and impotent faith that discourages critical thinking and fosters the ridiculous assumption that science and faith are unrelated. Real faith actually requires doubt, criticism, and exploration in order to change us—let alone change the world.