Saturday, May 01, 2004

belief vs following

I have spent most of the day blogging. Seeing some new blogs and being challenged by some old friends. Dwight has been dealing with the idea of what is essential doctrine? He calls this the naked gospel. In two weeks I am preaching. Something struck me recently and was reiterated by a friend at Praiseworks. There is difference between accepting (or believing) and following. To accept Christ or believe in Christ means acknowledging a set of beliefs. However, belief is not enough. James 2 gives an excellent rational for why belief is not enough. I short belief is purely an intellectual exercise. Modernity is built upon the belief in rationality. The maxim is "I think therefore I am." The result has been a salvation based upon rational acceptance of "facts." When we accept these certain facts about Christ we are saved. We are as Luther put Justified by faith alone. Faith is defined by Hebrews 11:1. Faith is evidence and assurance. In this sense faith and belief are synonyms. In fact by Luther's insistence that salvation has nothing to do with works (sola fide or "James is a strawy epistle) makes salvation an intellectual enterprise. The revival movements only popularized this theology and gave us the language of acceptance; ask Jesus into your heart, do you believe in Jesus, and the like.

To say that Salvation is anything but belief has brought outcries and condemnations. Saying things like "you believe in a works based salvation" or "you have no faith." The problem has been that we continue to use the language of modernity. While Faith or belief is essential for salvation what beliefs are essential? I will let Dwight continue to answer this question. But is more the Faith required? While I understand why Luther said what he said, Luther's thoughts no longer work in a postmodern society. Christ never calls people to just believe. He calls us to follow. So what does it mean for us to follow Christ?

In endeavoring to answer this over the next couple weeks I will also be looking for some new language.

First, I will use belief as synonymous with faith. As I said belief is different the salvation.

Second, I will not use the word saved. This word carries too much modern baggage to reclaim. Instead I use either reconciling, or being saved, or another word that shows the process nature of Salvation.

Salvation will refer to complete or full salvation, body, soul, and spirit or internal, external, and eternal aspects of salvation.

Holiness or holy will refer to a lifestyle of following Christ's example being transformed to His image.

Finally, I will be working under the assumption that orthopraxy (right practice) leads to orthodoxy (right belief). Also orthodoxy leads to orthopraxy. In other words they happen at the same time. As we endeavor to be holy orthodoxy happens. I operate under the believe that orthodoxy does change as circumstances change and while the naked gospel remains the flesh changes in every culture as orthodoxy and orthopraxy are inseparable. I culture demands a change to orthopraxy there will be a change to orthodoxy.

Thus I start the process of answering the question what does it mean to follow Christ?

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