As you now know, I recently read Day 289 from The Message//Remix:Solo which was entitled “Getting Our Way”. This was a reflection on Galatians 5, more specifically 5:16-17, 19-23. Following the Bible text are suggested ideas to think about, pray about, and ideas for living out the message.
Hold one of the following words in front of you today; exuberance, serenity, willingness,compassion, conviction. Let the word permeate what you do.”
Conviction. If you do a search on the internet for conviction and hit the news filter you will get 82,500 hits. If you narrow the filter to “conviction of beliefs” there are 5,040. If you change the filter to “conviction of faith” there are 29. In a society where our TV channels seem filled primarily with crime solving and detective stories, it is little wonder that our first thought with this word has to do with the legal term and not faith.
“Word Origin & History
late 15c., “the proving of guilt,” from L. convictionem, noun of action from convincere (see convince). Meaning “mental state of being convinced” is from 1690s; that of “firm belief, a belief held as proven” is from 1841.”
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
“A firm belief held as proven.” Note that it does not say, “proven” but rather, “held as proven.” In an ever more secular society we seem to be all about proof! One of my kids’ favourite shows is Myth Busters and they have been heard to state, partly in jest, that if something isn’t proven on the show, it is not true. As a corollary to that, of course, they believe that if something is proven on Myth Busters then it must really be true.
My point is not to judge this television show, but to reflect the pervasive disbelief in society. If you compliment someone they are likely to correct you, or try to figure out what your motivation was. We are suspicious of motives, actions, and people themselves. With all the people showing us all the good reasons why God doesn’t exist, they are missing the point completely!
If God was something you could prove, like the theory of gravity, then it wouldn’t be God. Sometimes I think to myself that I must be losing it intellectually to believe in creation, the crucifixion, the resurrection, etc. But I will stick with my conviction. I hold the existence and goodness of God as proven even though I have seen no empirical proof. After all, I believe that all humans are equal and there is certainly little in our world at the moment that would prove that!
We all have to set our own benchmark for belief. Many people, like C.S. Lewis were, at one point in their lives, confirmed atheists until they came to faith. Some event, series of events, or influences allowed them to take God as proven even though they all knew the good reasons why he couldn’t exist. If we live out our conviction, then we may just be a part of one of these events or influences who may help another come to faith.
Note : If the word conviction was not in use until the fifteenth century and not used to refer to a firm belief until the nineteenth, obviously some other term was used in the Bible which Peterson interpreted to refer to conviction. Of course the Bible was not written in English at all so that all are translations. In the King James Bible the word is faith. The NIV uses self-control and The Message says, “…a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people.”