The following is a transcript of a video I made for YouTube.
Video link: https://youtu.be/PMkxwdSnMbo
Opening: Welcome to another episode of “Almost Ordained.” I am your host, David, the guy who graduated seminary but never got ordained.
I’m taking a break from the Covid-19 series because, well, I need a break. I bet you do too. We all could use a break from Covid-19, right?
I’m turning my attention now to some of the most fundamental questions about the meaning of faith. I’ve written a book called Dark Nights of the Soul about my experiences living with clinical depression in the context of faith, and I came up with four principles that guide my recovery from depression. One of the principles is “Some types of faith are good for recovery, and some are bad. Make sure you know the difference.”
How did I learn the difference? The hard way, from the oldest teacher in the world: Experience. That’s a tough way to learn. There are so many ways my faith has changed over the years. So many things that sounded right when I started, I’ve had to let go. I don’t think I can teach you every lesson I’ve learned in the next few minutes. But if I could tell you only one thing, my number one tip about faith, it’s this. In the Bible, the Greek and Hebrew words translated “faith” can be understood in different ways. The two most important distinctions, I believe, are faith as belief and faith as trust.
I think most people think of faith only in terms of belief. If faith includes being a part of a religious body, that usually means they have doctrines and creeds. Sometimes there are a lot of articles of faith they ask you to believe, and some have maybe just a few. But generally, belonging to a particular faith does include believing certain things. It’s not that that’s a bad thing per se. But I think that’s not where the focus should be. Because if you only think of faith as belief, then doubt is the worst possible thing that can happen to you.
“You have doubts? Oh, no. There’s no room for doubt here. You’ve got to believe. Just believe.” Or, “That’s faith. You shouldn’t ask questions about that.” And so faith for some people has come to mean trying to force yourself to believe something you just know is not true. In that way, it strongly discourages being honest with yourself. And for mental health, honesty with yourself is absolutely essential.