Sunday, December 16, 2007

one dimensional faith

"More and more reflective Christian leaders are beginning to realize that for the millions of young adults who dropped out of their churches in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, the Christian religion appears to be a failed religion. And for a reason not unlike the one expressed by the young healthcare worker from Khayelitsha: it has specialized in dealing with ' spiritual needs' to the exclusion of physical and social needs. It has specialized in people's destination in the afterlife but has failed to address significant social injustices in this life. It has focused on 'me' and ' my soul' and ' my spiritual life' and ' my eternal destiny', but it has failed to address the dominant societal and global realities of their lifetime: systemic injustic, systemic poverty, systemic ecological crisis, systemic dysfunctions of many kinds.

When young adults from churchgoing backgrounds lose confidence in this version of the Christian religion to address the pressing issues of our world, their faith becomes more and more privatized and personalized and therefore diminished. They may or may not continue to practice it, but they will almost certainly become less enthusiastic about sharing it with others.
As a result, those on the outside of the Christian religion find fewer and fewer enthusiastic proponents, and there seems to be less and less reason to accept or even consider it- apart from threats of hell, which lose their effect when those making the threats seem a little defensive, deranged, out of touch, manic, or embarassed of their faith"
- Brian McLaren, Everything Must Change
In the first few chapters, the author is setting up this idea as the basis for the book. I love it, because these are things I've thought for years. Growing up, I noticed a very ' me' centered church setting, it was all about personal spirituality and growth. Don't get me wrong, personal spiritual growth is of utmost importance. Howver, the means of attaining that spiritual growth could be different. I've read that the first reformation was about beliefs- what to believe and why. Luther led the way for this. But a second reformation of sorts, one concerning deeds and actions..is much overdue. It as always struck me as very bland and one dimensional to only be concerned about people's eternal destination, while paying little to no attention to their present concerns. Jesus didn't do things that way.He addressed what was going on in that moment, as well as eternity.
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What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith, but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him' Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,' but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
James 2:14-17

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