Faith is a human faculty like sight, or taste…
March 28, 2014
Faith is a human faculty like sight, or taste…
It's always kind of exciting to have a Biblical insight confirmed by a scholarly type. Here's J.B. Phillips, the translator of, The New Testament in Modern English, comparing faith to one of our human senses. This is from the Chapter 4, The Faith Faculty, of his book, New Testament Christianity.
"As I write these words I am aware of various things through my physical senses ‐ as it happens, at the moment these are chiefly: the light and warmth of sunshine, the beauty of trees in full leaf, the varied songs of birds, and the distant sound of children at play. I am also mentally aware of the truth I am trying to express, and of you, my imaginary reader, following the line of thought I am trying to make clear. Doubtless as you read you are taking in similar sense impressions, as well as having your thoughts guided by the complicated system of marks made upon paper which we call printing. But simultaneously in the immediate world of you the reader and me the writer there are radio programmes of various kinds actually in our rooms with us. The "ether" ‐ for that is the name given to this all‐pervasive but intangible medium ‐ is continually pulsing and vibrating, strongly or feebly, with perhaps a hundred or more near or distant radio transmissions. In common parlance, we frequently say that a certain programme is "on the air"; but that of course is quite inaccurate. Radio transmissions are not vibrations in the air. They would function just as well if there were no air at all, and they make their way, as we all know, with very little hindrance through such things as timber, stone, and concrete. It is only when they meet conductors or partial conductors of electricity that these inaudible, invisible vibrations become minute electric currents, and even then they are undetectable except by that commonplace but quite complicated piece of circuitry known as a radio‐set. In your body, as in my body, there are at this very moment minute electrical currents of which we are quite unaware. They are, in fact, an untuned jumble of electrical vibrations representing the assorted offerings of many radio transmissions. Now, we are unaware of this and normally we take no notice of it. It is only when we want to hear a particular radio programme that we tune in a certain band of these etheric, vibrations, and by means of the radio‐set turn them back into audible sound. For, even if we disapprove of radio, even if we refuse to believe in its all‐pervasive presence, it makes not the slightest difference to the fact. Whether we like it or not, or whether we believe it or not, we are permeated by this mysterious "ether", and that is a fact which can easily be demonstrated. Before the advent of radio less than a century ago, such an idea would have seemed in the highest degree improbable and even impossible. We know today that it is true; that simultaneously with our ordinary‐world sense‐impressions there co‐exists a world of mysterious "ether" of which we only become aware when certain apparatus is used.
Now, this seems to me a most helpful, if simple, analogy. Suppose it is possible that the whole material world, and the whole psychological world, are interpenetrated by what we may call the "spiritual". For some reason or other we are inclined to think of the physical world, and even the demonstrable world of the "ether", as somehow real, while the "spiritual" is regarded as unreal and imaginary. I believe the opposite to be true. As Paul foresaw long ago ‐ "the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal" (2 Corinthians 4:18). Suppose what we are seeing and measuring and observing are the outward expressions in the time and space set‐up of what is really eternal and spiritual! If we make such a supposition, we are in for a revolution in our whole way of thinking. But New Testament Christians had already experienced this revolution.
To sense the reality of the God‐dimension, to conform to its purpose and order, to perceive its working in and through the visible world system is, speaking broadly, what the Bible calls faith. The heroes of Old Testament days were invariably the men, and in some cases the women, who exercised their faculty of faith even when it appeared to contradict the evidence of their five senses. In those old days, the king, the prophet, the priest, the warrior, sensed intuitively what has today become very largely a missing dimension. There is much in the Old Testament which may strike us as outmoded and even tedious, but its particular genius is to point to and record the actions of those people who were, however dimly, living life with a consciousness of the Eternal Order."