Against “having faith”
Faith is nothing. Really, it is. In fact, one way to ensure missing the gospel is to think faith is something. But it’s not. It’s really nothing at all. Faith is a negative concept that opens up space to speak about something else. It has what John Webster calls a ‘rhetoric of indication’, one which is ‘self-effacing’. In other words, faith couldn’t care less about itself. Faith wants you to stop thinking about it, too, because in thinking about it, you are thinking about how you have (or don’t have) it. And so, you’re really just thinking about yourself. ...—Matt Jenson, “Faith is Nothing” (H/T Chris)
Trouble is, we ever so subtly undermine the logic of faith when we too glibly exhort a person to ‘have faith’. It’s not so much that these exhortations must run counter to faith’s rhetoric of indication as it is our own recalcitrant tendency to smuggle in works. We relapse, again and again – and if you’ve been around addiction, you know relapse seldom happens once – into creative, but vain attempts to justify ourselves. We pay lip service to grace and then call people to drum up faith, to work with all their might to squeeze out enough of it to make their lives worth saving. We convert faith, in other words, into a work.