“What Christ came to teach was faith.” — Hazrat Inayat Khan
“While the old-fashioned religion, or let us say dogmatic religion, gave out certain directives, the new religion feels that these directives have to mature within a person. They have to be part of the character of the person. Ideas need to grow from within instead of being simply accepted from without. You cannot say to somebody to love thy neighbour and have that person really and essentially love his neighbour, unless he or she has gone through a certain stage of development.” — Maurice Speyer (1899 — 1957)
The Sufi master quoted above, and my father, who was a Jewish humanist (as much as he would eschew the limitations of that label), were both getting at something still not widely understood. Belief and faith, although they may support each other, are very different. Belief is often a matter of received wisdom, whereas faith is a deep form of trust. When the two are integrated, one knows through trusting and trusts through knowing.
Real faith is certainly not a static state, nor simply a matter of upholding a belief system. In fact, beliefs can often be a defence against the trust it takes to move out of our comfort zones when called to soul growth. Faith can also shake the foundation of solidified religious structures, as Jesus demonstrated in his time, was one sign of a truly free inner journey. As Sam Keen said, “It takes an abnormal amount of trust to go beyond the culture’s crust.” And as Alan Watts told us long ago: belief is concerned with holding on . . . faith is about letting go.
Then there’s maturity. Just as we are not born with maturity, but go through a number of developmental stages to achieve it, we are not “born again” into full growth. We can be suddenly lifted out of the confinement of ego states (“saved!”), yet that doesn’t save us from having to grow out of externalized, literal, dichotomous, class-bound, role-playing, one-dimensional structures and grow into self-aware, symbolic, dialectical, universal, synthetic, and multi-dimensional expressions of faith (see Jim Fowler).
Sam Keen romanticizes the psycho-spiritual stages involved as the Child (embedded, dependent); the Rebel (able to doubt, resist); the Adult (coping confidently, yet conforming); the Outlaw (individuated adventurer); and the Lover (childlike sage equally responsive to polis, eros, and cosmos).
If all that sounds too theoretical, I refer you to a brilliant satiric scene in the movie Ted, which is about a boy’s teddy bear coming to life and becoming more cynically “adult” as the boy matures . . . and doesn’t, due to the “inordinate attachment” to his cute, cuddly though now foul-mouthed and hedonistic companion. (Google “Ted — alley scene” to see the clip.)
In short, there’s arrested development all round. One subplot has a more pathologically regressed character starting to stalk Ted. The scene takes place in an alley where Ted is trying to dissuade the psychopathic loner from making Ted the object of his obsession. When asked if he is alone in the alley, Ted responds with, “You know, you’re never alone when you’re with Christ. So no, I’m not alone.” And toward the end of the scene, “Thank you for creeping up my night and Jesus be with you . . . in Christ.”
One comment below the video: “Words cannot express the depth of humour (in) this scene.” I agree, yet will still try. A pre-set Christian “faith” without any semblance of maturation beyond the echo of its formula, is profoundly funny when heard out of the mouth of a teddy bear acting like a grownup.
Speyer is a Benedictine Oblate as well as an author, subject matter expert for e-therapy, clinical consultant and director of InnerView Guidance International (IGI). He also directs a documentary series entitled GuideLives for the Journey: Ordinary Persons, Extraordinary Pathfinders. http://www.guidelives.ca/ Connect with Cedric on https://www.facebook.com/cms94 or via firstname.lastname@example.org