I was reminded the other day of a sermon our priest gave some time ago. He was referring to the Garden of Eden and the serpent speaking to Eve. He said, “The serpent didn’t really speak to Eve. Have you ever seen a snake speak? If you have, I have a straightjacket for you!” He got a big laugh from the congregation, but I wasn’t laughing. No, I haven’t seen a snake talk but there are a lot of things in the Bible I haven’t seen either. For example, I haven’t seen God in a burning bush, the Red Sea parted, a man live in the belly of a fish, a donkey speak, virgin birth, Jesus walk on water, feed 5,000 with a few fish and loaves, and someone rise from the dead three days later etc.
My questions to our priest would be: If we aren’t to believe these things and only believe what we’ve seen, what is faith all about? Further, I would wonder what the Church thinks it stands for. Or does it stand apart from the hard-to-believe parts? In other words, has religion gotten so big and so independent that it can stand apart from the faith?
Of course this was just one priest’s view. However, it brings to attention that our faith has many aspects which can be hard-to-believe, because we haven’t seen them. Yet, our ability to believe says more about what we think God can and will do and less about what we have seen. Like the priest, perhaps a person’s salvation doesn’t hinge on believing every hard-to-believe Bible narrative. Nevertheless, we rob our faith and our lives of the omnipotence and richness of God when we sell Him short. Besides, when each person removes from the faith parts that he doesn’t believe or want to follow, soon there is no faith left…except a faith that he himself has defined and designed. A self-defined God and a self-defined faith is part of what has gotten this country in the mess it’s in.