faith

I’m always a little surprised to come across statements that encourage people to avoid growth because reading that book, or seeing that adaptation, or discussing this theological perspective “might weaken your faith.”

Is our faith so fragile that a movie full of bad theology might turn us away from the Messiah? Is it so weak that reading an author who is not a Christian might cause us to turn away from God?

I can understand the idea of protecting an immature faith, one that has just started to grow, like you would shelter a baby plant in soft earth. But at some point, the plant must grow up. Its roots must dig deep. It must thrive on its own, without you hovering over it. It must face the wind and the rain and … survive. Isn’t that what faith is supposed to do, too? Aren’t we supposed to mature beyond the stage where the slightest wind will tear us free?

If we never face things that test our faith, it never grows beyond a seedling. I don’t think we should avoid things that challenge our faith, or contradict our faith, or ask questions about our faith … because if our faith cannot sustain asking questions, is it even a true faith at all? If a seam cannot stand someone pulling on it, it was sewn wrong. It comes apart. If we cannot defend our beliefs, if we are afraid to question our beliefs, they will not withstand a good tug. The slightest pressure will make them falter.

We grow through adversity. Our faith increases when it is tested. But how can it grow, if we are afraid of the slightest pressure? I would rather have it tested by entertainment than by extreme circumstances. I would rather grow it through reading writers I do not agree with, and thinking about their arguments, forming my own beliefs along the way, than in facing some incredible loss in real life with a baby faith, and suddenly finding myself asking, “Does God even exist?” When those tough times come, I want to have an aspen of faith, not a seedling.

Entertainment is powerful. There is no question about that. It can shape worldviews and lives … but is the influence of entertainment really greater than our faith? And if so, is our faith even faith at all?

Christians should fear nothing in the literary realm. Fear implies weakness. We do not need to ban or burn books. A boy wizard is no threat to our faith. A poorly done movie about Jesus is no threat to our faith. Our faith is not so fragile that it is going to break when we try to strengthen it. Muscles only fade when they are not exercised. Faith only fades when it is not tested.

We don’t have to be afraid of conflicting opinions, or of testing our faith. Growth only comes by asking hard questions.