Thursday, August 11, 2011

"A commitment to nothing in particular"

The Reverend Dr. Frederick W. Schmidt, an Episcopal priest, asks "What do Evangelicals have that we don't?" and provides an answer:
.... Evangelicals believe something. To name a few things: They believe in God, the Trinity, the humanity and divinity of Jesus Christ, the Resurrection, and the authority of Scripture. These things define reality in a particular way for Evangelicals.

People are drawn to defining experiences. They ground and center life, they define the boundaries of a community, they lend cohesion to that community, and the shared language serves as the basis for a common life. What a community believes gives people a reason for becoming a part of it and reasons for staying.

There are many good reasons to practice humility about the claims that we make for our faith—not the least of which is our inability to capture everything that might be said about God. But a commitment to nothing in particular as a life's endeavor is finally unsatisfying. It doesn't make for social cohesion. And, at the same time, it is grounded in at least one dogma of its own—in spite of itself—i.e., the conviction that we can't know anything. Fair enough if you are a skeptic, but hardly a powerful reason for going to church.

Evangelicals are actively committed to what they believe. Both the Old and New Testaments connect what is known about God with living for God. The Book of Deuteronomy admonishes Israel to "Teach your children the Law and to do it." The Epistle of James picks up on the same theme: "Faith without works is dead." And Paul connects the facts of the faith with imperatives in his letters. To embrace truth, it must be lived. ....

Evangelicals also think that thinking about what they believe is important. Stott and, before him, C.S. Lewis, gave their lives to the effort to be clear about what they believed and they engaged others in the effort. Being clear opened both of them to criticisms, of course, but nearly fifty years after his death Lewis is still widely read and continues to engage his readers in that conversation. .... [more]
Thanks to Insight Scoop for the reference.

Southern Methodist University News - What do Evangelicals have that we don't? - SMU BubbleLife - The Online Home of Southern Methodist University - Southern Methodist University, Texas