Acts 26:1 Agrippa said to Paul, "You have permission to speak for yourself." Then Paul stretched out his hand and began to defend himself:
Acts 26:2 "I consider myself fortunate that it is before you, King Agrippa, I am to make my defense today against all the accusations of the Jews, 3 because you are especially familiar with all the customs and controversies of the Jews; therefore I beg of you to listen to me patiently. 4 "All the Jews know my way of life from my youth, a life spent from the beginning among my own people and in Jerusalem. 5 They have known for a long time, if they are willing to testify, that I have belonged to the strictest sect of our religion and lived as a Pharisee. 6 And now I stand here on trial on account of my hope in the promise made by God to our ancestors,
Acts 26:24 While he was making this defense, Festus exclaimed, "You are out of your mind, Paul! Too much learning is driving you insane!" 5 But Paul said, "I am not out of my mind, most excellent Festus, but I am speaking the sober truth. 26 Indeed the king knows about these things, and to him I speak freely; for I am certain that none of these things has escaped his notice, for this was not done in a corner. 27 King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you believe." 28 Agrippa said to Paul, "Are you so quickly persuading me to become a Christian?" 29 Paul replied, "Whether quickly or not, I pray to God that not only you but also all who are listening to me today might become such as I am--except for these chains."
There is a common perception that a polarity exists between faith and learning. This belief is held both by people who live their lives by blind faith, and people committed to rational intellect: either we are rational, or we have faith. So when Paul, the learned religious academic, speaks about his faith the Governor is confused: “Too much learning is driving you insane!"
It is possible to have faith as a thinking person. Those who follow Jesus can practice a thoughtful faith – a faith that interrogates our language about God, our experience of God, and our life’s journey with God. We stand in the shadow of Anselm of Canterbury (1033–1109), Christian philosopher and theologian of the eleventh century. He speaks of “faith seeking understanding” (fides quaerens intellectum). This encourages us to develop an active love for God that leads us to a deeper knowledge of God.
Let us never stop asking questions.
Ordinary 31 / Pentecost +24
53 God Can Change Lives
The Scripture passage for the day is drawn from Reuben Job and Norman Shawchuck, A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and other Servants, (Nashville, The Upper Room 1983), 323.
This reflection is from my own devotional exercises for the day.