I have lost my faith. Quite the challenge when you blog at Faith-Promoting Rumor.
However, Tuesday I awoke and read the following comment by Ronan over at BCC:
This week we read Job 19:25: “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that at the last he will stand upon the earth”. We spent perhaps an hour discussing this one verse: what does Job mean? A Christian reading is clear—he is appealing to the intercession of the future Messiah, Jesus Christ. But such an interpretation will not do for a secular biblical program [for reasons Kevin has explained].
As a scholar pursuing a PhD in Near Eastern Studies, I am bound by certain rules. Objective, secular scholarship demands that I reject the notion that this passage refers to Jesus. I would not write it or suggest it, and if I were teaching a class on it I would criticise any student who raised the idea. Why? Because the only way to make this passage refer to Christ requires an injection of religious faith, which cannot be allowed to color our judgements of history, theology or literature. This is the creed of secular scholars, whose number, whilst I am being paid by a secular university, I am among. In short, I am required to see the Bible as a completely different book than the Bible I read on Sunday.
But in my other world, this passage clearly refers to Christ! Even as I sat in class I felt a strong, personal feeling towards the Saviour. Job’s trial is immense and his hope is gone, so he appeals for a redeemer, a “go’el”, who in Hebrew law was often the kinsmen who bailed you out of trouble. Is this not Jesus, our own brother who satisfies justice on our behalf? Indeed it is. But is it exactly what Job is referring to here? I don’t know and frankly, I don’t care. Jewish rabbis realised long ago that the greatest boon of the Hebrew Bible is that it lent itself to contemporary interpretation i.e. we can “liken the scriptures to ourselves.” Which is what I do as I try to balance the demands of scholarship (of which I am an an advocate) and the mysteries of religious faith (of which I am a believer). I’m not Job and I didn’t write his book, but “I know that my Redeemer lives”.
The thing which touched me most about Ronan’s comment was not what he had to say about Job, but his feelings about Jesus Christ. As I sat in bed reading this comment…I felt the spirit. My heart was pricked. I am not sure if I have felt the spirit in a meaningful way in years.
My relationship with the Church has been a positive one externally, but internally it has been rocky. After working 5 years at CES Institutions, I have grown tired of the institutional church. However, I think that as I have grown tired of the institutional church, I have allowed my faith to suffer, even die, amongst the frustration. Now this is not so much because of anything about the Church, but more the result of not being a very good company man.
Tuesday night, I went with my family to the movie Nanny McPhee Returns. It was a cute and fun show. Nanny McPhee comes in and teaches the struggling family five lessons. These include “not fighting,” and “sharing.”
At the very end of the movie, we find out that the final lesson is: have faith. As the credits started to roll, I realized that while I have little to no faith…I desire to have faith. Many of the people who I know that have abandoned faith, act as though they have overcome faith. However, faith has never been something that I have not wanted, it is just not something I am good at. Part of this is because depression has heavily clouded my head in many ways.
Now, I have decided to have faith. Not sure what that really means. I have decided that I will start by praying for more faith in Christ. We will see where that takes me.
Either way, between Ronan and Emma Thompson, I will have to thank the British for getting me back on the path.