Posted by Paul Edwards (Fr. Paul) on May 01, 2011 | Comments (0)

What We Believe Is Determined By "How" We Believe

What we believe determines the kind of life we will live. How we believe is the determining factor of what we believe. There are an infinite number of things about what we can believe. There are only two ways that determine how we believe.

The first three Gospels teach us what to believe. John’s Gospel teaches us how to believe. The first three use both believe and faith while John uses only believe. For John believe must contain both theology (what to believe) and faith or spiritual experience (how to believe). Theology alone is not belief it is just theology. A spiritual experience is not belief, it is just spirituality. Theology without spirituality is irrelevant. Spirituality without theology is meaningless. Theology gives spirituality its meaning. Spirituality gives theology its relevance. Jesus’ words to abide in Him include both the spirituality (abiding) and the theology (in Him) John 15:4.

There is a difference between “what” to do to abide and “how” to do it. There are millions of spiritual exercises on what to do, but there is only one way on how we do it. Some will say they abide through prayer, praise, communion or going to church. We can pray prayers and not pray, sing praise hymns and not praise, be stuffed with Eucharistic bread and not be in communion, or go to church and not get a thing out of it. It is “what” we do but not “how” we do it. “How” only happens by consciously opening our heart.

The story of Thomas is an example of how to believe (John 20). Thomas was not there on Jesus’ first appearance. He said, “I will not believe.” He was saying he did not want to have a second hand faith. He wanted the spiritual experience as well as the theology of the risen Christ. When Jesus appeared to him, he responded, “My Lord and my God.”

Jesus tells Thomas how to do it. The problem is the translators do not know how and so they mistranslate the meaning of the word “seen”. In Greek there are two words for “seen.” Opao is to “perceive” that is to “consciously be aware of the spiritual Presence. Eido means to literally see the physical. We learn about the seen with our rational head. We discover the unseen through our conscious heart. Jesus tells Thomas you have seen (opao) and believed. He had the resurrection theology, now he had the resurrection experience to believe. Then Jesus added, “Blessed be those who have not seen (eido) and believe.” By consciously not rationally focusing on the spiritual Presence of Jesus we have both the faith and the theology to become believers.

What we believe will be determined on where we are when we believe. When we are rationally out of the Presence we will believe and act differently than when we consciously are aware of the Peace, Love and Joy in the Presence of the Spirit of Jesus that God has put into our hearts. Galatians 4:6. Discover how the difference being down and out or up and in the Presence can make in how you believe and what you do.

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