Faith: Religious coinage?

I am wondering if I didn’t grow up in a world that essentially turned things like faith, hope, grace and truth into items of transaction–almost a religious capitalism.

Each of these words, in my experience, becomes a sort of quid pro quo. They are externalized.  They become the special language of religion that tells us how to define them.  Those definitions often imply or directly indicate that if we hold faith (hope, truth, grace) in the proper way, we stand to receive something for that correct stance.

Have faith in Jesus, don’t go to hell.  Hope in God, things turn out okay.  Depend on grace and you will be forgiven.  Tell the truth (confess your sins) and well . . . you still won’t go to hell.

There’s a sense in which all of those words begin to blur into the same sort of religious coinage, owned and operated by external systems.  If we hold them as such, they continually distract us to some external motivation, a religious capitalism, a religious behaviorism.  That is the kind of meaning these words can hold for us human beings, but they don’t have to.

What if we consider faith (and hope, grace and truth) them as internal states that have always been inherent to who we are as human beings?  Don’t they then begin to help us make sense of things in a much different way?

Bob Patrick

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