Friday, March 13, 2009

What Is Faith in Christ?

I want to understand better the connection between faith as an indirect method of knowledge and faith as it pertains to Christ. I know the connection is there because I live it every day, but I want to examine it closer, to test it in its particulars so I don't miss anything. 

I return again to the book on faith: Is It Possible to Live Like This? Faith by Luigi Giussani. Giussani is an authority for me - which is to say, he tells me things that I don't fully understand or believe and when I follow them I grow. Here's what Giussani says:
"How do you come to know Christ? Clearly, from our outline of the methods that reason uses, the one that has to be applied here is faith. We don't know Christ directly. We know Christ neither through evidence nor through the analysis of experience" (25). If someone disagrees with this point, I would like to see an explanation.
A curious thing about Giussani is that he always insists that the method by which we come to know Christ must be the same method that the disciples came to know him. In the book on faith, he describes five passages, or moments, in the progressive coming to know Christ better: 
  1. An encounter
  2. An exceptional presence
  3. Wonder
  4. Who is this man?
  5. Responsibility before the fact
Giussani insists: the problem that we have with faith in Jesus is the same problem that the disciples had:
"The moment the question 'Who is Jesus?' was posed for the first time is the instance in which the problem of faith entered the world. Not faith as a simple method of reason, but as a method of reason applied to something supra-reasonable, beyond reason, unthinkable, inconceivable. Faith as a method of reason applied to something inconceivable, because everything this man said was unconceivable" (27). 
If you don't feel this inconceivability, then the note on page 27 points to John 1:35ff (the ff means start at 1:35 and keep reading until you see it).  Here we can see that faith in Jesus is different because the object is different: not this or that, but Someone who is beyond what we can conceive, better than we can imagine. 

Grace builds on nature, stretches it, changes it, but it doesn't wipe it out. It doesn't replace human nature with something alien. Faith does not turn men into angels who know things directly. 
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