Thursday, October 24, 2013

What is belief?

You can find an index of all the 31 Days of Encountering Judaism here.

We're going to heark back to the Sh'ma today.

Belief, in the Christian tradition, us knowing something is true, with or without sufficient evidence. It is also most commonly stated in the Creeds, which was the early Christian Church's way if defining what was and wasn't heresy. But there is a mystical side to it as well.

The first word in the Sh'ma prayer is ... Sh'ma. It is translated as "hear" or "listen", but according to "Walking in the Dust of the Rabbi Jesus: How the Jewish Words of Jesus Can Change Your Life" by Lois Tvarberg, the word means more than being attentive to what God is about to say.

The Hebrew language is rich in meaning. The syllables that make up a word add deeper levels of meaning.

Sh'ma also means believe. It also means act on these words you hear. This makes Jewish belief an active belief: you hear, believe, and act.

Christians would call it living the Gospels. Jews would call it being Jewish. (Although a recent Pew Report would suggest that this definition is a little too all-encompassing.)

Acting in belief isn't easy, even if one isn't raised to, and it is here, I think, that we can support each other in our faith lives and be lights to the nations together.


To become less belief-sayers and more belief-doers and heal the kingdom God created.

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