[Rector]

Faith and the thirsty gods

 

Some years ago a rather strange phenomenon took place within the Hindu religion. A young girl in India dreamt that the elephant-headed god, Lord Ganesha, was thirsty. The next day she took a bowl of milk to her local idol of Ganesha and the milk disappeared from the bowl. This event sparked a wave of similar miracles as idols consumed the milk of devotees. In India, and throughout the world, reports continued to come in with the news that Hindu idols were drinking milk by the spoonful. India was in a frenzy. Milk sales were out of control, shortages were experienced and the price skyrocketed. Even in Australia, among the Hindu community, similar reports emerged. Although some suggested it was a bad omen, most said it was a sign of blessing. "If you have faith, you can see it with your own eyes", said one Chinese woman in Bangkok.

What type of faith can see an inanimate object drinking milk? Probably a fair description of such a faith is "blind faith", a faith that actualizes the imagination, believes what it wants to believe. Although we must respect the dignity of another person's belief, such faith is an illusion.

Christian faith is often spoken of in similar terms. For many, the faith that moves mountains is a blind unflinching belief in some particular outcome which has nothing whatsoever to do with God's will. Such faith proclaims the sick well, the poor wealthy, the mountain moved ....., without any reference to Biblical truth, the sovereignty of God, or even the will of the person we have faith for. I believe it, and so that's the end of it. (The actual quote for this phrase is "The Bible says it, I believe it, and that's the end of it"). So, blind faith is a determined belief in the veracity of our own conclusions - a dangerous assumption.

The Bible says that "faith is being sure of what we hope for, and certain of what we do not see". For example, "Noah, when warned about things not seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith." That is to say, God told him he was about to destroy the world in a flood and that the only way out was to build a boat in his backyard. God said it and Noah took him at his word; that is, he put his trust in God's word revealed. For Noah, that was the end of it. Not only was Noah saved through the flood by taking God at his word (faith/trust), but he was saved eternally. A person who trusts God's revelation is treated as if they were a perfect person, and so, through their faith gain eternal life.

Christian faith is something quite different to a strongly held personal assumption.