The two words don’t often get put together – romance and faith.

I think we tend to hear the word romance of relationships in blossom. So we speak of a friend who is in a romantic relationship. We even use the word in verbal formulations to talk of someone who is “romancing” or “being romanced.”

On the other hand, faith seems to have connotations of either a religious experience (i.e., a life of faith) or an identifiable set of beliefs (i.e., the Christian faith as opposed to the Muslim or Buddhist faith).

Maybe we should work to bring these terms into proximity. My personal opinion is that both would be blessed at the end of the process.

Have you noticed how many people are declaring their rejection of religion nowadays? They point to tribal divisions, arrogance, and judgments passed not only by Christians against non-Christians but within the larger Christian camp. Protestants damn Catholics; Catholics consign Protestant to hell. Then come the equally harsh judgments by sub-groups within each major set – Baptists against Episcopalians, Pentecostals hostile to Methodists, Churches of Christ judging the Presbyterians. And the judgments go the other direction with equal severity.

Maybe all this traces to the fact that we have turned a Jew’s teachings into those of a Greek and thereby confused faithfulness with a spirit of condemnation.

The Greek view of reality, meaning, and truth demands rational explanation. So Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle set the agenda of defining and explaining things to the mind. The goal was to put explanations into claims that could be worded precisely, studied in minute detail, and debated for everincreasing clarity. On that view, truth is static and inflexible, focuses on “essences” deemed more real than day-to-day experiences, and is often deemed cold and impersonal.

The Hebrew idea is not necessarily hostile to definitions and the attempt to figure out how ideas and words correspond to the world we encounter. But it is more fundamentally about value, function, and relationship. Thus God himself is Truth. His words are “living and active” – dynamic, not static. God’s word ultimately became flesh in Jesus and is meant to be enfleshed by his followers. Thus truth is more a matter of right relationship with God and neighbor than definitions and dogma by which we judge each other – and sever relationships.

Pilate’s “What is truth?” was more a category mistake than anything else and better would have been cast as “Who is truth?” But he was a Greek-speaking, Greek-thinking Roman bureaucrat, not a son of Israel. God is truth. So the one who is simultaneously the Way, Life, and Truth was before him unrecognized.

Being a Christ-follower is thus more a journey into unknown places, a process of ongoing transformation, or a romance than a seminary lecture. The time is long past due to allow faith to be a love affair rather than a war of words.

“The Word became flesh and lived among us . . .” (John 1:14).

By Rubel Shelly

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