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Faith in Faith itself - Workin' Mama - 08-15-2018

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/godlessindixie/2018/08/12/how-faith-taught-me-to-distrust-the-rest-of-the-world/

I'm mostly interested in discussing the first half of this article*, where the author talks about how he learned to give a dramatic "salvation testimony" in youth group, and then became schooled in the doctrine of "Faith." Basically, he was taught (as most of us were) that salvation is by faith, and that salvation by faith (as opposed to salvation by works) is what makes Real Christians unique from fake Christians and other religions. So much emphasis was put on having the right kind of faith, that it became faith in faith itself. In other words, it was actually a works-based salvation, and having the exact correct formulation of faith was the work.

*He discusses politics towards the end of the article, which is really not what I'm interested in discussing here.


RE: Faith in Faith itself - WalrusWrangler - 08-15-2018

I cannot stand reading this guy for the same reasons I hate to read Matt Walsh (with whom I mostly agree on issues): his words drip with venom against the "other side." You can practically see acid flowing off the screen every time he types "evangelicals." I made it through the article, but I thought I'd be transparent about my bias.

He's not wrong about some things, though. I've certainly known people with twisted views of faith, and I've struggled with it myself. Is belief not itself a work? My understanding came slowly, but ultimately it was studying Ephesians that made things click, so to speak. Most Christians know Ephesians 2:8-9:

"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast."

That clause, "and this is not from yourselves," applies to faith. Even the act of obtaining faith is a gift from God. Earlier, Ephesians 2 describes us as dead—incapable of any action. We couldn't come to faith if we tried, and we would never try. But God made us alive in Christ by giving us faith. So we cannot even boast in faith, only in Christ who gave us faith.

Some call this viewpoint Calvanism, and I hate that term. But regardless of what it's called, it "solves" the issue of faith-works. I didn't come to this understanding directly because of the tension of faith and works, but that tension fell away as a result of this new way of thinking. I actually kicked against the idea pretty hard for a while.

Even under this framework, I wouldn't say that someone who believes in works-based or faith-as-work-based salvation isn't a "Real Christian." You can be saved without fully understanding the mechanism by which you are saved. The key still is trusting in Christ's work on the cross. And God's the one who enables us to have that trust. So if someone has that trust, but they also think their works to faith-work plays a role, it doesn't mean they aren't saved or even aren't a "Real Christian."


RE: Faith in Faith itself - myotch - 08-15-2018

It’s an interesting take. In the IFB and even going into fundegelicalism, I was often overwhelmed at the amount of ‘work’ it took to sustain “faith”:

Evidence, schmevidence - fossils are for suckers, read Gen 1 again! And if you don’t believe Genesis, you cannot believe Jesus.

Give up rock music, young person. (Except this - you can play this, but only backwards.)

Pray the sinner’s prayer. (Is this not a work?)

Dress code. Attitude. Thoughts. Anger. All to be kept in check.

And when the regs break you down.... “You may think you were saved, but, tonight, as the music plays, wouldn’t it be nice if you came down and gave your heart to him? Tonight. Right now. Every head bowed. Every eye closed. Jesus is calling.”


RE: Faith in Faith itself - Dr. Jezebel - 08-15-2018

Fwiw, i interact with Neil Carter a lot on social media and he's not venomous at all. In fact, he's so much more gracious than I am when it comes to criticizing Xtianity. And like Darrell in SFL's hey-day, Neil has followers/supporters who are Christian & agree with much of his criticism.

It makes me wonder what specifically causes the perception that he's venomous, Walrus?

Completely unrelated, but my ex said similar things of Darrell's writings and forbade me from continuing to interact with the site. (We all know how that turned out!) Smile Smile Smile It's fascinating to me how people can read the same words & have such different interpretations of them.

And Workin' Mama, this is a total derailment of your intent. Let me know if you'd like me to edit/delete my comment. ❤


Faith in Faith itself - rsc2a - 08-15-2018

My general thought is that the author set up a straw man and knocked out down. It's an interesting topic that I would like to see a better analysis for.


RE: Faith in Faith itself - WalrusWrangler - 08-15-2018

(08-15-2018, 11:30 AM)Dr. Jezebel Wrote: Fwiw, i interact with Neil Carter a lot on social media and he's not venomous at all. In fact, he's so much more gracious than I am when it comes to criticizing Xtianity. And like Darrell in SFL's hey-day, Neil has followers/supporters who are Christian & agree with much of his criticism.

It makes me wonder what specifically causes the perception that he's venomous, Walrus?

Completely unrelated, but my ex said similar things of Darrell's writings and forbade me from continuing to interact with the site. (We all know how that turned out!) Smile Smile Smile It's fascinating to me how people can read the same words & have such different interpretations of them.

And Workin' Mama, this is a total derailment of your intent. Let me know if you'd like me to edit/delete my comment. ❤

I don't know anything about him outside of the handful of articles I've read on the Godless in Dixie blog. In this article in particular, though, it's much what rsc2a said: he's setting up a strawman to knock down while taking pot shots at Evangelicals all the way through. He maligns us as manipulators or manipulated, paranoid, ruled by fear, and unable to think for ourselves. The picture he paints is far from gracious. He accuses us of losing our heads over a non-existent Bogeyman while himself painting us as the Bogeyman.

Some of his criticisms have merit, as I addressed in my earlier post, but the vitriol throughout poisons the message to anyone in the group he's criticizing. To me it seems more aimed at tearing down Evangelicals than actually trying to make them think through things.


RE: Faith in Faith itself - Dr. Jezebel - 08-15-2018

Ah. I see. I think he's talking from his personal experience, and it's almost identically comparable to the stripe of Fundamentalism I experienced, but I can understand why those whose experiences were less extreme would find Neil's arguments either hyperbolic or disingenuous and pointedly accusatory rather than educational.


RE: Faith in Faith itself - Workin' Mama - 08-15-2018

Regardless of what one may think of the author's personality, writing style, attitude towards his former religious community (the evangelical community), etc., I think it's fair to say that he was sincere in his former faith. He addresses this in other posts -- how he was very passionate about his faith, went to seminary, studied apologetics, taught Sunday school and was otherwise heavily involved in church. When he started to doubt the faith, he tried to hang on to it tooth and nail.  In fact, he thinks that he lost his faith because of those things, not in spite of them. So if he's knocking down a strawman, at least it seems to be a strawman that he himself once believed in with great sincerity.

What I found interesting about this particular article is that attempts to address the essence of faith, which is what I want to talk about. I don't necessarily agree with all of his conclusions -- after all, I'm still a Christian. But I've wrestled with many of the same questions myself. The article also addresses the faith/works dichotomy.

What is faith, anyways?

Perhaps it is similar to wonder and beauty and romance and the wind, in that it defies being captured. It cannot be forced, fabricated, measured, mass produced, distilled and put in a bottle like essential oils, or sold in the health food store for $21.99. Nor can it be put on a CD and given away at a mega-church youth rally. Maybe it's a gift, like that magical moment on a summer evening when the night locusts are singing in the woods behind you, and you see the sun setting beyond a huge field of ripe corn.

The Hebrews author calls it "the substance of things hoped for" and "the evidence of things not seen." These words raise more questions then they answer, but I like them a whole lot better than the fundegelical "chair" illustration -- you know, the illustration that you believe the chair will hold your weight, so you sit down in it.

Is faith belief? What happens when you can no longer believe all of the things that you used to? Can you force yourself to believe that the sky is red, even as you stand there looking up at a blue sky?

Is faith trust? I like that definition better. But what happens when life makes you wonder if God really has your best interest at heart? Do you just keep on telling yourself that "God is good, and things will work out for the best"? Is that what faith is?

Is faith obedience? Does it mean that you trust God enough to follow his commands? Is this the resolution of the faith/works dichotomy? It makes sense at face value. But what are God's commands? Many people read the Bible, and come away with different conclusions as to what the Christian life should look like.

I've boiled it down to this: Christ has saved me, and his work is sufficient, regardless of my ability (or lack thereof) to formulate, believe, and adhere to every minute detail of proper theology. Good works are a result and an overflow of faith, and should focus on the basics, such as loving one's neighbor and caring for the needy (as taught in the four Gospels and in the book of James, as well as other scriptures).

It's like this:
Me: I have so many doubts! I must be losing my faith -- or terribly backslidden!
Also me: I am becoming less and less certain about all but the most important things. That's OK. That's good! I'm peeling back the unneeded layers, like a dirty onion freshly dug from the garden.
Also me: Maybe I have to lose my faith to find it.


RE: Faith in Faith itself - Workin' Mama - 08-15-2018

Quote:myotch wrote --
It’s an interesting take. In the IFB and even going into fundegelicalism, I was often overwhelmed at the amount of ‘work’ it took to sustain “faith”:

Yeah, that's kind of how I feel. Tired of working so hard at having enough faith. I'm glad that only a mustard seed is required.


RE: Faith in Faith itself - Dr. Jezebel - 08-16-2018

I tried to hold on to my faith tooth & nail, as well. It just... dissipated. I wanted to believe so badly. And then other Christians would chastise me for having doubts & accuse me of being backslidden or allowing Satan to have a foothold in my life. Which was the opposite of encouraging and helpful.

I finally got to the point where I couldn't accept things without evidence anymore.