Many criticize religious adherents as “blindly obedient.” While this isn’t the lived experience of many people of faith, those same people often struggle to adequately explain the reasons behind their convictions.

This struggle to justify our faith is particularly poignant for people like me who believed but didn’t feel the spark of excitement over my faith that seems to motivate many of my coreligionists.

With this background, I sat down with Faith Is Not Blind, Bruce and Marie Hafen’s attempt to draw out a rationale for faith grounded in both the lived experiences and challenging, less-discussed realities of being a believer.

What makes the Hafens’ writing on faith unique is that they approach the question of faith through a framework of logic, like scholarly attempts at the subject, but do so in a conversational, story-centered manner, like pastoral attempts at the subject.

Once I took ownership of my faith, my faith came alive to me.  

In many ways, the book feels like advice from grandparents—if your grandparents included a former university president and general authority.

It is not an apologetic attempt to defend faith from the accusation of being blind. But rather advice to the reader on how to build their faith on a foundation that is not blind. The Hafens empower readers to take concerted action on their faith, choose their faith, and ultimately own their faith.  

Why does that matter to me?  Because I’ve seen what these ideas can mean in real life.  

Again, I never understood those around me who “couldn’t put the scriptures down.” I had tried reading them multiple times but attempting to read themhowever sacred they might befelt like a chore. 

But I decided it was a chore I wanted to do right. So, prompted by the possibility of something more, I gave myself the necessary time, and I quickly found the drudgery and rote-ness disappearwith surprising joy, confidence, and genuine appreciation taking their place. I had known the great scripture stories since I was a child, but they were never alive until I approached them myself, comprehended them in my way, for me. 

Rather than accepting my faith by default, or simply believing that the faith of family and friends was correct, once I took ownership of my faith, my faith came alive to me. My faith was no longer blind.

In their introduction, the Hafens state: “Our purpose here is to offer words, stories, and concepts that, we hope, describe a faith process that leads to confidence and trust in the Lord and His Church.”

Faith is identity. Faith is relationship. Faith is experience.

Throughout the book the Hafens present faith as processual. Repeatedly throughout the text, they explain, “We value what we discover far more than we value what we’re told.”

In contrast to popular portrayals of the word, this sets faith as not being blind by definition. Those who passively absorb beliefs without trying to live them out in some way are not practicing faith. As the Hafens argue, faith depends on living it for ourselves. 

In short, the faith that the Hafens describe isn’t orthodox (emanating from authority), or even Gnostic (emanating from personal knowledge), but lived—emanating from personal experience. 

Thus, faith can’t be blind. Because faith is identity. Faith is relationship. Faith is experience. 

Unsurprisingly, then, because the book focuses on how personal faith is, it’s not merely a guide book for its readers, but deeply autobiographical. 

The Hafens tell the story of how they first met, in a class called “Your Religious Problems.” The class allowed each student to take a religious question, research it, lead a class discussion, then write a paper. 

Their professor, then BYU’s Dean of Religion, West Belnap, often let students struggle, they noted. The purpose of the class was not to resolve religious concerns, so much as to experience and struggle through them. The resulting faith was far from blindbut lived and tested.

Similarly, Faith is Not Blind challenges readers to become more aware of the spiritual knowledge they already possess, and then to dive deeperunafraid of what they might discover. 

The Hafens devote much of the book to the effect of the internet on questions of faith. But rather than advocate an attitude of ignoring the internet out of a commitment to faith, they provide a framework for critically analyzing the reliability of unsubstantiated online information. As they put it: 

We are open-minded believers who know that history and life are not always clear-cut and tidy, but we desire to keep learning and to improve the status quo, not just to criticize it.

The Hafens’ stories are relatable and candid. They share experiences from many of their most turbulent moments: sickness, doubt, dissolving friendships, death. Out of all of this, they came away “receiv[ing] a witness more powerful than sight” of God’s love. 

While reading Faith Is Not Blind, I found new confidence in my faithbringing a new perspective and attitude in these matters. It’s an enjoyable, light, but not a simple read. This is not Sunday-afternoon filler. The profound philosophies demand engagement and thoughtful consideration from its readers. 

For those who may have skipped through life, perhaps ignoring doubts, consider Faith Is Not Blind as a guide to a deeper and more profound faith. For those who struggle to articulate the durability and benefits of faith to a cynical world, Faith is Not Blind also provides navigation to the world’s pessimism.

For those building a new faith, Faith is Not Blind will give you additional courage and tools to boldly navigate the sea of misinformation. And for long-time disciples beset with new doubts, Faith is Not Blind will give you clarity and confidence in how to move forward honestly.

Ultimately, by helping readers navigate the complexities of faith in our day, Faith is Not Blind will be able to help anyone better understand the nature and strength of not just “faith” generally, but their own personal and living faith.

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