What is the inspiration that compels the contemporary ‘followers of Jesus?’ My simple mind can only assume that if a person acts on love, forgiveness, and kindness – then I can assume that person is a follower of the Jesus that I understand is described in that one Book. (Note here – I do not claim Christianity as my source of faith.) You mentioned institutional intervention – do religious institutions qualify?
Let’s talk about a grieving mother who’s son was paralyzed. Let us just assume that there is a God who choses to participate actively in the lives of believers. Let us assume that God can heal any hurt. My notion as a chaplain was to give her some space. As I noted – she was in tremendous grief – she suffered the loss of all of her former hopes and dreams for her son. Grief is a complex dynamic, ushering in denial, sadness, anger, blaming and finally acceptance. The mother’s first response in the grief process was of denial, followed immediately by anger at modern medicine, blaming incompetent doctors and overwhelming sadness. Gotta give her some time to process. But the question remains – Was her logic flawed? I gave her about a week to process, then I broached the subject of God’s will versus our own will. The discussion was long and sad. The sum of it was that it was the mother’s will that her son be healed – and she demanded of God that very healing. She even implied a conditional response – heal my son or I will stop having faith in You! We cannot know the will of God. Why do bad things happen to good people? If we assume the truth of an interactive God, then we must assume that his will takes precedence over our own.
This is deep stuff. I am not a person with a great mind. Others have gone before us, Plato, Locke, Kant, DesCarte – each of these great men have studied the idea of faith and the divine. This is the stuff of faith because the truth is not knowable.