Learn: Exploring Faith
Learn: Exploring Faith is a welcoming introduction to Christian belief and life in the church. Each chapter explores topics such as baptism, what Christian faith is, and what it means to be part of a church.
Each chapter includes:
- A short explorative article
- Questions for discussion/reflection
- Recommended further reading
- Other materials and contributions designed to explore specialist issues such as suffering, other religions, science and secularism
The contributors include: Donald MacEwan, David Fergusson, Kathy Galloway, Paul Nimmo Dorothy Neilson, Matthew Ross and Andrew Torrance.
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Excerpts from Exploring Faith
Donald MacEwan – University Chaplain, University of St Andrews
Something has led you to read this book. I don't know what it is, perhaps you're not completely sure either, but something has drawn you to explore. For now, you may not even be sure what you're exploring. That's fine. After all, if you knew what you were exploring, it wouldn't be exploring – it would be more like recognising what you've already sorted out. There are lots of different books for that: this is about exploring.
What could be out there, in this journey which you haven't mapped before? It could be God, or Jesus, or spirituality. Or a desire to live a better life, to have healthier relationships. Or it could be about making connections with other people who have faith, or finding a home for your faith, or being part of a church. Or it could be about working out if you have faith, and what your faith is in, and what faith feels like. It could be about how that faith changes you.
One difficult question is worth looking at first. What about faith? How does faith come about? Here's an example from my life. Recently I went to a jazz concert. I could tell the tunes were good and the musicians were brilliant but I just didn't get it. Everyone else was loving it, and I wanted to love it, but instead I sat stonily unmoved. How would an appreciation of jazz come to me? How does faith come to anyone?
Why Is There Suffering?
Kathy Galloway – Former Head of Christian Aid Scotland
People often ask about Christianity, 'If God is a God of love, why is there so much suffering in the world?' Or, 'Why do bad things happen to good people?' And when trouble strikes in individual lives, the despairing question may be, 'Why me? What have I done to deserve this?'
Theologians and pastors have wrestled with these big questions for centuries. The Psalms are full of them; even Jesus cried, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
But in my work with Christian Aid, which, along with its partners, is engaged in the relief of pain and injustice across the world, I find my response is shaped by two themes running side by side in the gospel accounts of Jesus's suffering and death. One is a theme of presence and compassion; the other a theme of absence and silence.
"Hope is such a powerful part of the Christian faith; it can be felt in many ways and is demonstrated in the world around us."
"From childhood to adulthood, I vacillated between having a sneaking suspicion that God was real but then finding lots of ways to explain away his possible existence."
"When I think about my own journey of finding faith, I remember that for me, it was a gradual awakening process where God's presence and love began to enter into my heart."
Further reading and resources
Learn: Understanding Our Faith for in more depth and in more detail thinking about Christian faith