Monday, April 03, 2006

Why I Am a Christian (Sort Of)

By Robert Jensen, AlterNet. Posted March 10, 2006.

Why We Let an Atheist Join Our Church

By Jim Rigby, AlterNet. Posted April 1, 2006.

One of my main 'issues' when I have tried to embrace modern Christianity in any of its organized forms is gap between acts and faith. I understand the concept of faith, and I understand pretty clearly where faith plays a role in my belief system and world view, and I can see that there is a powerful role for faith in Jesus' teaching.

But what I see even more clearly is that Jesus was concerned with how he acted. Jesus was concerned with his own thoughts and beliefs, to be sure, but time and again, He makes the point through what he says and what he does that it is his Acts that we are to marvel at, not Jesus himself. We are not to marvel at his faith ... we are to witness his acts. We are not to marvel at the divine power which brings forth food ... we are to witness the compassion of feeding those which without His help would have nothing to eat.

In the good Samaritan story, the point is plain. Two men of faith walk past the injured stranger, and are not neighbours of Jesus. But a Samaritan, a true Heathen by Jesus' standards, becomes a neighbour of Christ simply by stepping forth to help the man. Jesus does not speak of his faith in God, or anything of the sort ... Jesus does not care about that. What Jesus cares about in the good Samaritan story is that one man stepped up to help a wounded stranger, and two men walked by, more concerned with themselves than their brother. Jesus cares about acts here, but he also speaks to faith, and its relation. If his only point was to speak on the importance of helping those in need, any 3 men would have sufficed for his story. But Jesus chose his 3 men very specifically, and an accurate reading of the parable cannot miss the fact that, at the end of the story, the two non-neighbours of Jesus started off as the two 'men of faith' and the man who ends up wlaking beside Jesus started off as the Heathen stranger. Jesus chose his stories very carefully, and the way he chose to represent those three men was not by accident ... he was making a strong point about the value of doing.

Jim Rigbty seems to understand this distinction, and this article shows a VERY nuanced view of the power and the value of faith. Its a shame that I haven't ever found someone like Rigby leading a Church around me ... I actually might be able to feel at home in his congregation, and for me, thats saying a lot. Regardless, the article is amazing ... even aethiests and agnistics need to read this article IMO.


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