Saturday, October 16, 2004

The Two Origins of Faith

Once again Christians are divided into two groups: the fundamentalists and the liberals. You may not like those terms, but I'm writing this! This can perhaps best be traced to personal origin of faith.

Share with me a moment in a seminary class in Old Testament-- many, many years ago. A discussion dealing with the matter of Jonah and the Big Fish. One young man said, "if Jonah was not swallowed up by the Big Fish, then I have no basis for my faith. (It seemed that his faith was based on the 'inerrancy' of the Bible.)

A somewhat older student said, "my faith is not based on whether or not Jonah was swallowed up by the Big Fish. It's based on something that happened to me. As the healed blind man said to the Pharisees when they asked him about Jesus,
whether he be a sinner or not, I know not, but one thing I know I was blind, and now I see."

You don't like fundy and liberal? Call it the traditionalist and the experiential. Being prejudiced, I call it blind faith and the knowledge of God. But that is my pride showing (John 9).


Marjorie said...

I don't mind the terms, but I'm not really sure what I am. I'm not as liberal as you, but I'm not a fundy, though I was flirting with it for a few years (or struggling with it. well, both).

I mean to take up your challenge to do a post on my blog about the origins of my faith, I'll get to it eventually. Basically, I've always been more of a liberal. After the 9/11 attacks, it didn't feel like enough (actually, thats not liberalism's fault, its mine because I never worked on my faith), so I started a Bible study that was fundy. I felt sort of out of place, like a spy. Then, I felt out of place in my liberal church. So I was really confused -- I feel better now, but I'm glad I explored fundamentalism. Also, as a homeschooler, I'll keep encountering it because many (but not all) choose to homeschool because of fundamentalist religious reasons. I hang out in the liberal, inclusive camp.

I have to say, I wear a cross pendant and it sometimes feels strange because I wonder if people assume things about me that aren't true (that I'm a fundy). But I love wearing the cross and it means a lot to me. What makes me feel really great is when I do something especially nice and I'm wearing it and I'm hoping it reflects well on Christians.

Larry said...

Re the terms: they're really only broad categories, and there's a tremendous diversity within each. There are some smart fundamentalists and some stupid liberals, and of course, vice versa. As you intimate there are degrees of liberalism. The degree is basically a function of our experience. And finally we are all changing: I'm not exactly the liberal I was last week, etc.

Re fundies: It was good for you to get some experience with them. I consider it, generally speaking, more a matter of cultural level than anything else. The fundy is more like an O.T. type than a N.T. type. He needs the pedagogue (Galatians 3:24); he sees things in black or white; he needs the law. This form of Christianity appeals to people coming out of the "miry clay" of life. Sociologically they tend to move in a liberal direction in the next generation, or maybe sooner. I respect their faith and praise God for it; it will be enriched as they go through life.

Re being out in the wilderness. Welcome! There's room for more of us. When you really begin to grow spiritually, you find yourself increasingly out of the mainstream. That's part of the cost of discipleship. That doesn't mean you can't reach out and relate to everyone, just that they're likely to consider you a bit odd.

Re the cross: it doesn't mark you as a fundy, only as a devout Christian. Much better! That reminds me of Rob; when he was 16 he wore very long hair. I asked him why, and he said he wanted to show people that a person could wear long hair and still be a human being. In that respect the cross and the long hair are both great witnesses.

Thanks for going along with me with this glob madness. It sure helps to know someone is reading it. BTW when you describe your faith, remember to note that it's changing. The Bible calls that growing in grace.