Monday, November 14, 2005

The Nature of "Belief"

If you believe in your heart and confess with your mouth...

So how do we believe?

This is kind of taking Amos question a little broader, but also relating to the nature of salvation as well.

I really don't have much to offer on this account. However, I question the formulaic concepts presented in four point gospel presentations...of, course, I do, because I read too much Don Miller...

What do you guys think about belief?

Peace

11 Comments:

At 11/14/2005 12:17 PM, Blogger JonAmos said...

See, I've been thinking a lot about this question... and truthfully, I don't have a clue. Jake, I think, removes the individual part of salvation and faith too far. I agree that there is probably a more global and overarching salvation than we as Americans realize, but I find in the Gospels and Epistles MANY accounts of persons coming to a knowledge of the Good News.
So really, what is belief? I think "saving faith" in Jesus really is an agreement to be transformed by the knowledge of grace, and it's complience to the Spirit to allow fruit to abound in your life. Beyond this, I would agree that "faith without works is dead," and is therefore not really a legitimate belief.

 
At 11/14/2005 1:33 PM, Blogger adam said...

Dusty,
I have some thoughts on your q, which I'll try to post later, and until then you can just wait in anticipation. right.

Amos,
Jake's point doesn't negate individual salvation, but just puts it in context. Sure, as individuals we all have journeys towards god as witnessed in the bible and every daylife, but, as Jake was pointing out, when it all ends (however it ends) God will 'save' you, me, a bunch of other people, and all the rest of creation (the cosmos). it all goes back to the body- lots of parts, one body- though the parts will be redeemed God will really be saving the body.

another underlying issue to where we put the emphasis of salvation (individual or communal) has to do with who do we worship- sounds funny because we are all christians at MW, but hear me out. As Christians many of us put the entire focus of our faith on our relationship with Jesus Christ, despite the name of our religion I'm not sure that is entirely right, because Jesus is the promised Messiah of the god YAWEH, and after he ascended JC left the Spirit. We can't have JC without the other two, at least that's what the belief in the trinity tells us. So to say i have a personal relationship with JC isn't exactly correct, because JC can't be fully separated from the other two. i think if we start to look at all our beliefs through a 'trinitarian' filter it changes things, because no longer is it just individuals but community, and i think that's partly where jake was coming from. this is hard to do, i personally (there's that damn individual again) struggle with it, but i believe my beliefs should be shaped this way so i choose to struggle.

 
At 11/14/2005 10:37 PM, Blogger JonAmos said...

adam,
i don't disagree with any of that. i just think in day to day life, i find it much easier to not judge (the us-them-mentality) and easier to love as Christ/God/the Spirit commands and demonstrates when i can see every individual as loved equally by God. when i consider all humans essentially "saved" (that is, Christ's death holding enough power to redeem all God's Creation), the line between righteous and unrighteous blur... and personally i think that's a healthy place to be. maybe that's confusing... again, i'm still learning and piecing things together. thoughts?

 
At 11/14/2005 10:43 PM, Anonymous joey said...

Amos, many of the things you have said resonate with me but I think I come to different conclusions. When I am in positions where I can love people and not judge them (which is probably the most life changing place to be) I feel compassion towards them, as I'm sure you do. It compells me to want them to know Jesus more than it does anything else. Not because Jesus will make their lives better but because Jesus will make their lives full and beautiful in all of its brokenness. There is something intensely spiritual about the connection of love between those who know Christ and those who don't. I mean can when you love those who don't believe can't you just see how beautiful a union with Christ would be in their lives? Thoughts?

sorry if that sounds mysitical or something.....i get in these moods...

 
At 11/14/2005 10:46 PM, Anonymous joey said...

here is the part where we all realize i forgot to read all the comments and recant what i just said because it is irrelevant.

 
At 11/15/2005 7:27 AM, Blogger JonAmos said...

no man, it's not irrelevant...
those are good thoughts. i agree that there is that "connection" between believers... mainly because we share the same values. when interacting with the rest of the world, i'm trying to REALLY love people for who they are, and not out of compassion or sympathy. I'm not sure they want that... thoughts?

 
At 11/15/2005 12:18 PM, Blogger Jake Sikora said...

not to judge...no us-them mentality...
don't you see that the only consistent "not judging" position is not universalism but the type of religious pluralism that is an implicit atheism? being a Christian is a judgment position. Whether you're judging others as damned or saved by Jesus Christ you're still saying their wrong and you're right. This is the only authentic option.

Adam you summed up what I was trying to say pretty well. Amos, my point is simply this; salvation is not about individuals. If you want to talk about salvation you are talking about the work done by Jesus Christ in relation to the cosmos. You have contridicted yourself if you mean "coming to knowledge of the Good News" as salvation and then propose a universalist account of salvation. "Coming to knowledge of the Good News" is the standard of salvation that the strictest evangelicals would hold. Further, I don't see MANY accounts of this in the Epistles, nor in the Gospels. I do see people being called and responding by following Jesus in the Gospels and in the Epistles I see theologians and church leaders attempting to understand how to live in the life of the Spirit, but rarely is this a belief/knowledge issue. This gets back to Dusty's original statement. I'll make a brief comment: it was the gnostics who relegated salvation/Christian faith to beliefs and knowledge. The orthodox Christians were far more concerned with living in the life of the Father, Son, and Spirit.

 
At 11/15/2005 12:29 PM, Blogger Dusty said...

Yes, Jake, Belief as you are talking about it is what I am getting at. How do we define salvation by a list of "beliefs". I have found myself defending my commitment to Jesus recently in a test related by someone who is concerned about my behaviors. I found myself defending my beliefs, as if it were these list of things that "saved" me. I found the experience frustrating, disingenuious and somewhat insulting.

Because what then is the definitive list of beliefs that we must adhere to? It seems to insignificant to make this the basis of our faith...

Peace

 
At 11/15/2005 5:33 PM, Blogger JonAmos said...

maybe I'm misunderstanding...
help me out, as I'm sort of new at this thing (read: not currently studying theology or working to attain any degree). i don't understand how it's a contradiction to hope in universalism and to say someone has come to a "knowledge of the good news." I just accepted a job as a youth pastor, and I firmly believe in evangelism and discipleship. can i not hope that even those who choose not to "walk in the Spirit" will still receive grace through redemption in Christ?

i'm not sure how judgment is inevitable. i can think someone is wrong without damning or condemning them, can't i?

maybe i'm in need of a worldview shift. my upbringing and experience in "evangelical circles" has led me to believe that salvation is the goal of evangelism... salvation of the soul and the life on earth. maybe i'm way off... never really been challenged on it i guess. maybe that's why universalism struck me as the viable option by default.

and let me clarify, if my tone of voice comes through weird through the cyberlanguage... i deeply, deeply respect you two (jake and adam) both academically and personally. that's kinda why i'm throwing this junk out there... i'd like to learn and be sharpened. thanks.

 
At 11/15/2005 8:29 PM, Blogger Jake Sikora said...

Amos,
Holding a strong universalist position wherein all will be saved and then speaking of a "saving faith" is contradictory if the second statement implies that someone who rejects "the knowledge of grace" is condemned. For this not to be contradictory would require that the decision for or against "saving knowledge of grace" and this implies a disconnect between the choices and actions on life and what happens "afterlife." This is going to get you in trouble with both the strong exclusive evangelicals and myself. For the exclusivist you're saying that what we do "doesn't matter" because it doesn't have a bearing on heaven or hell. What I'm arguing for is a conversation about evangelism that is not about heaven or hell nor is it about "saving knowledge of grace". Instead, evangelism and salvation is about providing an alternative community (the church) wherein people can be invited to participate in the new thing done in Jesus Christ.

On judgment, it is inevitable in your very sentence. To think someone is wrong is a judgment. It is not a damnation or condemnation, but a judgment. The romance of modernism/post-modernism is to refrain from judgment of any sort. What I'm saying is that this is impossible if one holds to any truth claim. Perhaps you have too strongly associated judgment with condemnation (the sort of judging that only God can do) instead of what I mean by judgment as discernment of truth and untruth.

Congratulations on taking the job, you are now the real theologian, along with Adam. What I'm here for is arguing for the defense of the tradition despite its practical consequences. I don't like the language used in describing the end of evangelism as salvation of the soul and life on earth. I think the biblical model deals with the end of evangelism as disciple following of Jesus Christ and membership in Christian community. Perhaps the vocabulary of saving souls and right living can be rehabbed to get back to this model.

 
At 11/16/2005 12:15 AM, Anonymous Joey said...

I don't know much about the "belief" part of this conversation. I guess "belief" if anything is action not a series of abstract ideas. Those don't mean anything because they are just thoughts and words and are completely hueristic. You believe if you do. You do not believe if you do not do. There may be more but I don't think that we have the capacity to recognize belief in any form other than action.

I would deny that the end of evangelism is salvation only because I think "evangelism" has been grossly over emphasized in evangelical circles. Evangelism might better be described as the beginning of a conversation or the door into a relationship with Christ (sorry for sounding PoMo). The command is make disciples of all nations not convert people. The very nature of what a disciple is is relational not terminal. Salvation isn't even an end in itself, in one sense, because we don't just die after we become "saved" but we have an entire life to live with Christ. Maybe we should be emphasizing "making followers of Christ". Heaven and Hell may be a reality but it isn't a reason to follow Christ or even a selling point.

Jake, you said you don't see MANY accounts in the epistles but what do we do with the ones that we do see? Is lack of repetition a viable reason to look for other solutions? I hope those questions don't sound aggressive, these are questions that I have asked a lot here because the church that I'm at emphasizes "mission," which basically means evangelism, over and above what some call the "social" Gospel because of this very question. I guess the feel is that Jesus, though he lived life a certain way and repeted himself about loving and helping the poor, emphasized Matthew 28 and the Epsitles confirm that in their mind. Sorry for the novel.

 

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