Page 7 - Core Beliefs For Intentional Community
P. 7

therefore in his name the great commandment is given: “You shall love the Lord your
               God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.” (Deut. 6: 5).

               This is what ultimate concern means and from these words “ultimate concern” is
               derived. They state unambiguously the character of genuine faith, the demand of total
               surrender to the subject of ultimate concern. The Old Testament is full of commands
               which make the nature of this surrender concrete, and it is full of promises and
               threats in relation to it. Here also are the promises of symbolic indefiniteness,

               although they center around fulfillment of the national and individual life, and the
               threat is the exclusion from such fulfillment through national extinction and individual
               catastrophe. Faith, for the men of the Old Testament, is the state of being ultimately
               and unconditionally concerned about Jahweh and about what he represents in demand,

               threat and promise.

               Another example – almost a counter-example, yet nevertheless equally revealing – is the
               ultimate concern with “success” and with social standing and economic power.  It is the
               god of many people in the highly competitive Western culture and it does what every

               ultimate concern must do: demand unconditional surrender to its laws even if the price
               is the sacrifice of genuine human relations, personal conviction, and creative eros. Its
               threat is social and economic defeat, and its promise – indefinite as all such promises –
               the fulfillment of one’s being. …

               Faith is the state of being ultimately concerned. The content matters infinitely for the
               life of the believer, but it does not matter for formal definitions of faith… (From pp. 1–4)

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               …In the act of faith that which is the source of this act is present beyond the cleavage
               of subject and object. It is present as both and beyond both.

               This character of faith gives an additional criterion for distinguishing true and false

               ultimacy. The finite which claims infinity without having it (as, e.g., a nation or success)
               is not able to transcend the subject-object scheme. It remains an object which the
               believer looks at as a subject. He can approach it with ordinary knowledge and subject
               it to ordinary handling. There are, of course, many degrees in the endless realm of
               false ultimacies. The nation is nearer to true ultimacy than is success. Nationalistic

               ecstasy can produce a state in which the subject is almost swallowed by the object. But
               after a period the subject emerges again disappointed radically and totally, and by
               looking at the nation in a skeptical and calculating way does injustice even to its
               justified claims. The more idolatrous a faith the less it is able to overcome the
               cleavage between subject and object. For that is the difference between true and

               idolatrous faith. In true faith the ultimate concern is a concern about the truly
               ultimate; while in idolatrous faith preliminary, finite realities are elevated to the rank
               of ultimacy. The inescapable consequence of idolatrous faith is “existential

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