In contrast to doctrinal beliefs, then, we have emphasized faith – not as blind adherence to dogma, which again tends to divisiveness, but rather in its etymological sense of trust. Trusting in something does expose us to an element of risk, but at the same time a healthy trust roots itself in some ground of trustworthiness, so experience and evidence are always relevant. Faith in this sense keeps its feet on the ground; far from slavish belief, it is an informed and willing suspension of disbelief, leveraged to a practical end.
Our greatest emphasis in this course has therefore been on the social practice of religion, viewing the enactment of faith through a lens of social engagement, as expressed in textual and historical interpretation, moral ideology and practice, and the divine possibility of human justice. I am aware that this approach has cut across the grain of most of your expectations, but I trust that you will at some point come to see its usefulness.