SELF IDENTITY #7 = THE INQUISITIVE “I just want to find out what faith and religion is all about. I know there must be more to life than what I have been told, and I want to consider faith carefully.”
- SOME REASONS YOU NEED FAITH: You are also actively searching for something for yourself. You know that all the faiths cannot be true, even if they have something to contribute. So you want to compare and contrast them and get to the truth. Part of what you want to know is how this search and analysis can be accomplished in an unbiased fashion. You are the kind of person who may most benefit from a book like this one. Please continue the search and do not get discouraged or distracted. If you are sincere, it is worth it. One promise in the Bible reads, “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13. Jesus also said “My teaching is not Mine, but His who sent Me. If anyone is willing to do God’s will, he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from Myself,” John 7:16-17. So willingness to do and believe the right thing is the key to arriving at true understanding.
SELF IDENTITY #8 = THE EVANGELIST “I already know the truth and firmly believe it. I am not interested in changing faiths. I am only interested in helping others believe as I believe and come to know the truth.”
- SOME REASONS YOU NEED FAITH: Your claim to be a firm believer places you squarely in the realm of faith. No one needs to tell you about the relevance of faith. You have experienced it yourself. In fact your faith has inspired you to attempt to convince others. If your faith is indeed in the truth, you are set and need only to work on your walk of faith. If, on the other hand, you zealously work for a misguided faith, you are actually in a worse position than others. Your confidence has been misguided and that pride will keep you from objectively evaluating the weaknesses of what you believe. Knowing the basis for truth is crucial for your progress. Anyone can make religious claims. However truth is narrow by definition. It was to religious people, certain of truth, Jesus warned in Matthew 7:21-23 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.”
SELF IDENTITY #9 = THE SELF-ACTUALIZED “I see the great potential in each human, and I strive to find and use whatever faith allows me to become all that I was meant to be. I also want to motivate others to fulfill their human potential and find meaning for themselves.”
- SOME REASONS YOU NEED FAITH: You use faith as a means to achieve something for yourself. Faith is a stepping stone to promote, love, acceptance, or find self. So the first question to confront is if that is an appropriate use for faith. In other words, is faith there to help us actualize our potential or are we here to serve the purposes of faith? Is faith primarily about self or others – about me or about God? Which is the priority? Also you need to consider the guilt, deception, and evil in humanity which must be addressed before a positive self-concept or actualization can develop. Where does sin or evil fit into the equation? If man is not basically good in his motivation but has evil which needs forgiving, cleansing, removing, and retraining, then self-actualization is too weak a goal for faith and too premature. We first need more fundamental transformation as the basis for good feelings about self.
SELF IDENTITY #10 = THE INDIFFERENT “Honestly, I just don’t care one way or the other about God or religion. It’s all good with me, just as long as others let me live the way I want. Live and let live, but don’t bother me with it!”
- SOME REASONS YOU NEED FAITH: You want to live and let live, but you don’t want to find out who gave you your life and how He will hold you accountable for the life He gave you. You are closed to faith and withdrawn into your world of interests. You should know that indifference will end up hurting you. You can only withdraw so long, and then your accountability will arrive. Better to prepare now. Indifference only makes sense if there is no danger. Someone who is indifferent to their house on fire will end up destroyed permanently. Long lazy summer days give the aura that nothing will change, but thunderstorms come suddenly upon the one laying in the hammock. I would urge you to shake yourself out of your doldrums and see the coming storm. Faith is too important to treat casually. Jesus warned, Luke 9:25 “For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself? Mark 8:35 “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.”
SELF IDENTITY #11 = THE PHILOSOPHICAL “All the presentations in this book are too simplistic for me and do not take seriously enough the advances of philosophical thought throughout human history. There is much that has been carefully thought through, categorized, and logically defended or refuted beyond these simple statements and categories. I cannot follow this approach because I need something more exacting before my mind can settle on it.”
- SOME REASONS YOU NEED FAITH: I am not here to match wits with you. But I will say that faith does not need to be more complicated than it is. Learning about proper faith is more about perception than working through every major philosophical position articulated in history. Besides, philosophy can get quite sophisticated, but it can never overcome the assumptions of its own starting points. Being well educated is a great thing, but it can also breed pride which hinders knowing the truth. If you are that deep in knowledge, than surely you know that you must challenge your assumptions! Much learning does not yield the fruit of truth if it is not based on a certain starting point. And how can philosophy provide a certain starting point? Just the sheer number of philosophies in the world should let you know that smart people – even brilliant and orderly thinkers – do not always get it right. So faith is still something you will need to pursue if you want to justify knowledge and stand confidently upon your final conclusions.
SELF IDENTITY #12 = THE CO-EXISTER “I am not an ideologue but think that different faiths work for different people to help them find peace and happiness. That’s all I want from life – peace, happiness, and keeping a fairly good conscience. Each person must choose his/her own path to truth. None of us should stand in their way or fight about religion.”
- SOME REASONS YOU NEED FAITH: You have a fairly strong belief system already whether you realize it or not. It is mostly an eastern approach to religion where pathways to truth and God are viewed as diverse for different people. However, is truth really that flexible? How would one know, and how could that position be defended? If there are not in fact multiple ways to truth or multiple truths, then your motto “Coexist” is a sidestep of the real issues. It is a distraction rather than a signpost to truth. When truth is divorced from faith the result is darkness not light. So developing discernment about faith is the only path forward if truth matters to you. Coexisting is a great political strategy to avoid conflict, but it should never be taken to mean that all worldviews are equally valid. For that would mean evil is good and good is evil; ignorance is knowledge and knowledge is ignorance. Your beliefs would destroy all good and noble things in the world by equating them to bad and ignorant things. Coexisting should not be used to quash the disagreements and polite debates about religion.