Secondhand Faith

Two times two is four. Gravity is real. Nobody doubts. Lay out four apples by twos and count. Roll one off the table and it hits the floor, every time.  You need not know Calculus or the science of gravity to prove simple math and physics.

But how about beliefs, concepts we hold true? Here’s a parable from my youth:

I was a Boy Scout fresh from a fieldtrip to learn about poison ivy. We examined several growths and our Scoutmaster pointed out of the identifying marks. I knew poison ivy.  One day our family visited my aunt’s small farm. When we arrived, she warned us to stay away from a bushy vine climbing a fence near the driveway–poison ivy, she said. I took one look then ripped an armful off the fence. Alarmed, Aunty ordered me to the bathroom to wash with Fels-Naptha soap, a household poison ivy remedy. My protests did no good. Someone told Aunty the vine was poison ivy and she believed him.

That’s how we build our faith, beginning in childhood. We believe people we trust and generally live among people who believe like us. But what if the people we trusted were wrong?

Too few of seriously consider the source of our faith. We live with secondhand beliefs.Encounters during seminary years (’44-’47) led me to question aspects of my faith. That questioning continues. I want to own my faith, to know why I believe what I believe. I’m still learning, but now the faith I draw on day by day is mine.

Could I be wrong? Sure. But I have a reason for the hope that is in me.

Old Grandpa Lloyd



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