The Force of Faith
Each time I consider matters pertaining
to religion and particularly to Christianity my thoughts inevitably return to my
paternal grandmother, Matilda. At age 19 she immigrated to America following a
brother who preceded her by a number of years. Brother Sven had found good
employment in Minnesota as a skilled cabinet builder. He underwrote Matilda's
passage on a sailing ship to America.
Matilda found employment as a house maid
and acquired competence in English, maintaining a charming Swedish lilt. She had
no formal language training. Then she met Adolf, also a Swedish immigrant, and
they married when she was 29 and Adolf 32. The union produced three boys, my
father being in the middle. I was often in the care of Matilda when both of my
parents were working. This was a blessing as it was from her I developed my
Grandmother was a woman of strong faith
having been raised in the traditions of the Swedish Lutheran Church. To her God
was real, and His influence on her life was real. She read the Bible and prayed
for God's guidance and support daily. She was unsophisticated. Her meager formal
education that ceased on immigration, was provided by the local priest. Although
pious, she was not a stiff moralist. She accepted everyone recognizing that she
was a sinner as were all persons.
Life in American was hard and
challenging. Adolf, a millwright, provided a marginal living standard but he
seemed indifferent to the marriage contract. Though he was not unfaithful he was
not affectionate to his wife and I sensed he considered her more as a housemaid
than a spouse.
It was Matilda who held the family
together and it was her faith that empowered her. Her example remains with me.
Adolf and Matilda died at ages 90 and 87 respectively, three months apart.
I provide this lengthy prologue to make
a number of points regarding the scholarly and finely-argued essay,
First I would ask, is Christian Faith
important in the search for and maintenance of human happiness thus contributing
a positive influence to civil society? If it is, should it only be the province
of those who are highly educated and have been exposed to and understand
concepts such as "category error" or
In the case of Matilda the answers are
yes and no respectively. She would be shocked to hear that God did not inspire
the Bible. Somehow, despite her lack of understanding of the intricacies of
intellectual argument, her faith was a very positive influence in her difficult
87 years on Earth.
I am sure millions of people have
similar stories. If we make a category error when we say, "My heart is full of
joy", I am sure most folks will understand what is meant. Interpretations of
Jesus and the Church may indeed change over time and evolve out of the culture
from which they come. Along and with such change remain abiding and constant
truths that may take on different appearances.
The author totally nullifies Faith and
Revelation and with it Free Will. As a consequence the idea of Sin is destroyed.
This is facilitated by the introduction of the concept of "Systems" that is
reified into a universal mechanism to solve the mystery of existence.
What I perceive from this essay is a
very adroit rendition of the old argument amongst theologians, atheists,
metaphysicians, physicians and whoever wants to join the fray, as to whether or
not there is a God or a non-physical reality that we can access.
No matter how much the sciences advance in their understanding of the physical
World, this question will, in all likelihood, remain unanswered and
unanswerable. I agree that Myths are essential to religious sentiment. I see no
reason why one cannot grasp
physical reality and at the same time understand the mystery, beauty, guidance
and consolation of Christianity. If Jesus is not divine, then we have turned him
into a cult figure. That is a precarious path to diminishing His influence in