“We must distinguish between what we should believe (orthodoxy) and what we actually believe (existential faith).” – Craig C. Broyles
I found these words in my scholarly reading a couple of years ago and thought they were pretty cool. A few days ago, I saw them in a flashback Facebook status. Since then, I’ve been marinating on the essential quality of this statement.
As a person who generally understands the divine through orthodoxy, theology, and intellectualism, I rarely relate to experiential and existential interpretations of the divine. Ironically, life has its way of screwing with orthodoxy through our experiences. Lately, I’ve asked a lot of “why” questions and said a lot of “I don’t knows.” Orthodoxy doesn’t make me feel better; nothing does. Yet, I’m not one to endorse therapeutic-deism – I don’t think God’s here to make me feel better about life. Therefore, when that viewpoint gets thrown into upheaval by experiences, what is one to do? When the going gets tough, most of us want to get the hell out of dodge.
Sometimes, we get caught behind “the fan” and existential faith wins. At present moment, what I’m thinking, feeling, experiencing, and believing contradicts my orthodoxy. I wanna feel better about the God who walked away. Translation, I’m feeling like a therapeutic-deist. However, orthodoxy tells me to look to God, who’s found at the cross, and leave my shit there. Orthodoxy also tells me that God has given us the gift of faith. In spite of the fact that my existential faith is stewing in frustration – over the seemingly inactive divine God – it is orthodoxy that allows me to look to the cross and relay on God, the giver of faith, when I feel hopeless.