Question 4 – Can a believer be critical? – Blog Series “52 Questions and Answers About Faith”

Continuing with the exploration and reflection through a series of articles written in a conversational language about Catholicism, about God, about Jesus, about the Church and many other faith related topics. Here we present:

Question 4 – Can a believer be critical?

Believing has nothing to do with ‘gazing at the sky and letting your mind go blank’. Faith and a critical attitude go hand in hand. Faith is about God* and therefore about life’s deepest mystery. Believers wants to entrust themselves to this mystery, even if it sometimes goes beyond their understanding. At the same time it is necessary to purify faith from superstition and therefore from unbelief. That is why Christians find it important to understand the Christian faith as much as possible with their mind, knowing that the starting point of Christianity* – the resurrection* of Jesus* – completely escapes the laws of nature and human logic. However important the critical mind may be, it does not have the last word for the believer.
The critical attitude has an important pitfall: suspicion. It is important to recognise this pitfall because it can kill trust. Without trust there is no faith. Therefore moderation is important, including with regarding to the desire to understand; a desire that in itself is good. You better not wait for the moment when you understand everything with your mind, before you can believe. That is simply not possible.

Faith in God is not about sorcery or fairy tales. Just look at the harshness of the life and death of Jesus. Yet experience shows that people sometimes use faith as a shield against life, quietly hoping that God, as a wizard-figure, will solve all their problems. It is important to remember this is not how it happened in the life of Jesus. Yet, in the name of faith, strange things are still being said and done today, sometimes with the best of intentions, sometimes with less grand intentions. That is why critical thinking is so important. The critical eye can unmask the weeds in the garden of our faith.

– Do you deal critically with what you believe or do not believe?
– Have you ever weeded your garden of faith?

Feel free to leave your thoughts, reflections or comments below.

Watch this space! Coming up: Question 5 –  Can faith and science get along?

Follow these links to go back to Question 1 – Is believing exceptional?Question 2 – Is Faith for simple souls? , Question 3 – Can you be a Christian and yet doubt your faith? 

If you wish to learn more about this resource follow this link  “52 Questions and Answers about faith

About the author:

Nikolaas Sintobin, SJ, joined the Society of Jesus in 1989, following a short career as a lawyer. He was trained as a Jesuit in Brussels, Paris, and Santiago de Chile. Today he is a spiritual director who is keenly interested in online ministry and discovering new ways to help people find God.

This text is republished with the permission of Messenger Publications, Ireland. To buy a hard copy of the book click here.