“Come be a fool as well”: a reflection on faith

In April, Dartmouth University scholar Jeremy Sabella invited me to write an article on “Faith” for a forum he was editing on “Sins & Virtues in American Public Life.” Since September, the website “Syndicate” has published pieces on pride, virtue, sloth, wrath, envy, lust, gluttony, greed, prudence, courage, temperance, and justice. (Essays on hope and love are coming soon). Read the entire forum here.

My essay is titled “‘Come Be a Fool as Well’: A Reflection on the Theological Virtue of Faith.” I wrote it in July and did not realize until recently that the Syndicate editors scheduled it to drop on Election Day.

Here is a taste, for what it’s worth:

Christian faith is also not relegated to the monastery, as we are told by those who preach a so-called “Benedict Option.” Neither is it consigned to mere “thoughts and prayers.” Our sweeping trust in God’s purposes for our lives, and our participation as characters in the story God is telling about the world, is practiced as a form of citizenship, not as members of an earthly nation, but as royal priests in the kingdom of God. We are called to inaugurate an eschatology that will have its ultimate fulfillment in a new heaven and a new earth. Faith takes us on a vocational journey that will occasionally be characterized by periods of doubt and suffering. But, as Enns writes, these moments of despair and doubt will teach us to “move toward God” and exercise trust “when all the evidence is against it.”

During the ambiguity and pain that comes with any long pilgrimage, faith summons us to speak, write, and engage the world as agents of reconciliation, defenders of life, lovers of neighbors and enemies, sufferers with the poor, and stewards of creation. We belong to a kingdom of God that is not of this world, a kingdom of love, compassion, and justice. And because Jesus Christ launched this kingdom through his death and resurrection and will one day bring it to a glorious completion, people of faith will always be about the work of announcing its arrival. As Bonhoeffer wrote, “The world dreams of progress, of power and of the future, but the disciples meditate on the end, the last judgment, and the coming of the kingdom. To such heights the world cannot rise. And so the disciples are strangers in this world, unwelcome guests and disturbers of the peace.”

The life of faith is the life of foolishness. As the apostle reminds us, God chooses “what is foolish in the world to shame the wise” and what is weak to “shame the strong.” (1 Cor 1:27).

Read the entire essay here.