John Alan Turner

Writer, Theologian, Consultant, Speaker, Teacher

Faith Like a Fountain

I think my favorite part of that opening paragraph in Heschel's book is this: "When faith becomes an heirloom rather than a living fountain...its message becomes meaningless."

I love the imagery of fountains. Unfortunately, that is the kind of imagery the church has had little room for. It's too messy and hard to define.

See, a fountain is a strange thing -- always the same, always different, static and dynamic, still and moving at the same time. Not the kind of thing you can easily manage. If you get close to a fountain, some of it might splash on you. Then you'd be wet but not completely soaked.

You can see how this toys with the "step-across-the-line" mentality that has dominated theological language for the past 200 years or so -- especially in the areas of ecclesiology and soteriology. Faith, we think, should be more like a swimming pool -- something rather fixed and full, something you dive into, something into which you can be completely submerged.

Perhaps we are swimming in deep water (to mix the metaphor is a very Christlike thing indeed) by even talking about this, but I think faith -- if it is to be vital faith -- must embrace the both/and of a fountain rather than the either/or of a swimming pool.