How Refreshing

I just finished reading some mind-numbingly boring crap for New Testament Theology class, so when I opened my “Christian Religious Education” text for Philosophy of Education class, I was refreshed to read some interesting, thought-provoking and relevant stuff.

The author, Thomas Groome, is talking about faith as having three dimensions: believing, trusting and doing. After talking about the need to think of faith in terms of doing, he offers this insightful analysis:

…neither is it correct to allow this performative dimension to stand alone as a total description of Christian faith. To overemphasize it to the point where the other two dimensions are excluded or made secondary is an imbalance. To begin with, purely functional Christian faith is likely to become mindless activism, and the activism may well be short-lived. As “doers of the word” we must inform our doing by a reflected-upon and convinced belief. Secondly, faith as doing needs the grounding of a trusting relationship with God who saves in Jesus Christ. Without such a relationship and felt dependence we fall either into Pelagianism, in which we think we can save ourselves by our own efforts, or into despair when we see how far short our own efforts fall. Our responsibility to be doers of the word must never lead us to assume that w can build the Kingdom alone. And our anxiety about what remains to be done must not allow us to miss out on the signs of the Kingdom already among us. If we fail to celebrate our present, or if we measure ourselves purely on the “results” of our own efforts, then we will be reduced again to the anxiety of an unredeemed people. (Thomas Groome, Christian Religious Education, 65)

As I’m exploring more and more the realms of Christian conviction leading me towards action in the realm of social justice, I found this helpful, instructive and challenging.


3 responses to “How Refreshing”

  1. “if we measure ourselves purely on the ‘results’ of our own efforts, then we will be reduced again to the anxiety of an unredeemed people.”

    Yup, I’m guilty of this. I pray and then end up measuring it’s success; how silly on so many levels eh?

    I was reminded today of Wimber’s unhappiness at having to preach that Jesus heals to his congregation when nothing was happening. I can’t remember the exact quote, but didn’t God say, “preach my word or get out”?

    Ah, to rest on the text; how dangerous, how safe, and how difficult! But I guess it stands on its own and we witness to it.

    I’m continually pleasantly surprised to find the Vineyard’s (or whatever cross-section of Christians we care to label ourselves) worldview in quite good standing on all this.

    I don’t think anybody could accuse us of Pelagianism. We’re just too much aware of our own brokenness I think. I think every sermon I heard for years had that theme. =)

  2. Funny. I just got back from the class that I read that for, and the prof called me on a comment that had my yearning for assurance of results tied up in it.

    He said that success has nothing to do with it: our call is to obedience, not success. Ouch.

    Oh, and good comments Cam my man. Good to know I’m not alone in this :)

  3. Matt and Cam,

    I sure have enjoyed reading your dialogues in the last couple of weeks. From an outsiders perspective, it’s really quite amazing the things you guys are wrestling with. All of your quandaries are such pastoral quandaries – it’s cool to hear you guys sounding like pastors. Also cool that you can bounce stuff off each other.

    Anwyay, check ya later.

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