Conclusion: The Possibility and Necessity of Faith Today
Faith is real in every period of history. This fact does not prove that it is an essential possibility and necessity. It could be—like superstition—an actual distortion of man’s true nature. This is what many people who reject faith believe. The question raised by this book is whether such belief is based on insight or on misunderstanding, and the answer is unambiguously that the rejection of faith is rooted in a complete misunderstanding of the nature of faith. Many forms of this misunderstanding, many misrepresentations and distortions of faith have been discussed. Faith is a concept—and a reality—which is difficult to grasp and to describe. Almost every word by which faith has been described— also on the preceding pages—is open to new misinterpretations. This cannot be otherwise, since faith is not a phenomenon beside others, but the central phenomenon in man’s personal life, manifest and hidden at the same time. It is religious and transcends religion, it is universal and concrete, it is infinitely variable and always the same. Faith is an essential possibility of man, and therefore its existence is necessary and universal. It is possible and necessary also in our period. If faith is understood as what it centrally is, ultimate concern, it cannot be undercut by modern science or any kind of philosophy. And it cannot be discredited by its superstitions or authoritarian distortions within and outside churches, sects and movements. Faith stands upon itself and justifies itself against those who attack it, because they can attack it only in the name of another faith. It is the triumph of the dynamics of faith that any denial of faith is itself an expression of faith, of an ultimate concern.