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Any Amount of Faith Will Do (Part 1) By Jonathan Brackens

We only ask “how much” when we are concerned with whether we have enough. Trust me, a dab will do.

Our frustration with faith comes from a compulsion to compare. Comparison’s utility is both enigmatic and double-edged. Faith must be compared to the extent comparison edifies you; however, comparison must end the second it degrades you. Degradation makes you less open to interact with God. When you embrace the evolution of the New Testament (“NT”) you will reduce the frequency with which you engage in degrading comparisons of faith.

Remember, Jesus died around 33 ACE, the first Gospel — Mark — was written around 70 ACE; ergo, for almost forty years the messages of Jesus Christ were passed on orally, then selectively reproduced by scribal culture, then over twelve hundred years later printing presses helped stabilize reproduction, later reconciling the over 5,000 variant readings of the NT texts. The NT survived oral tradition because those teaching and later writing embellished the text — slightly — wink — to help retain its message. Embellishment also “tied” NT events to the Hebrew Bible to help early Christians’ continuity of faith. This is okay so long as you approach the text with that understanding.

The practical effect of Darwinism is that the text developed elements that allowed Christianity to camouflage in regions under Roman control and blend into Syncretism, Gnosticism, Platonism, Paganism, and Hellenism. As a result, our faith “marker” is misrepresented. That too is okay, so long as you approach the text with that understanding and eliminate those extra elements.

You can identify those extra elements by engaging the NT texts’ language and First Century culture and compare it to a typical understanding. Wait. Don’t leave. I promise, it is not as bad as it sounds, and it is more helpful than typical engagement.

Consider that the story of a non-descript “middle aged” man from Nazareth competed with the Iliad and Odyssey, Epic of Gilgamesh, Pseudepigrapha, etc. The NT is a tough sale, remember John wrote, “Can . . . any good thing come out of Nazareth” (John 1:46 KJV)? Against those odds, how else do you think we would remember the story of Jesus meeting the disciples on the other side of the sea (Matthew 14:22–36; Mark 6:45–56; John 6:16–24)?

In Matthew Chapter 14, Jesus needed to collect himself and pray after feeding five thousand with two fish and five loaves of bread; so, he tells his disciples to go across the sea and he would meet them there after a while (was this not fantastical enough). For some reason Jesus — against gravity and buoyancy — walks across the water, during a storm, to catch-up with the disciples. Mind you, the storm is so strong that it leaves the boated disciples stranded in the middle of the sea. Why must simple ambulation be so extravagant? Perhaps textual Darwinism is at work somewhere within this story or in the preceding story.

There can be no doubt that something was polished to keep the text shining within the hearts of men. Nevertheless, there is honesty within the text where the subject of the story stands to gain nothing from its honest portrayal. This is how we identify the extra elements we need to get rid of so we can recalibrate the faith scale.

Read Part Two to find out how we recalibrate the faith scale using Peter’s “if-faith”, “conditional”, or “little faith” as the level of faith Jesus appreciates and requires.

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