For the past few days, I’ve been visiting my mom in a small town in Western Pennsylvania…Ellwood City. It’s economy went down the crapper back when the steel mills packed up and left and it’s never really recovered. Still it is cleaner and more thriving than many towns in this area and I’ve lived here off and on throughout my life. As a baby…as a child…even as a young adult. I would probably never move back to Ellwood, but it feels “"homey” to me in some ways.
My mom is not into technology…proof of that…..she doesn’t even own a TV. Nope, no TV…and no computer. No computer equals no internet. I’ve been without internet for four days….except for my daily pilgrimages to the closest McDonald’s. (fyi…McD’s has free wifi at most of it's locations across the country. Easy to connect to with a minimum of fiddling with the wifi settings on your computer. And they have great coffee…equaling Starbucks or Dunkin’ in quality but cheaper )
For the times, I knew I would not be hanging out at McD's, I downloaded a few websites (using a nifty free app called Backstreet Browser) to read offline. One was an eclectic site called The Nazarene Way…lots of obscure, odd writings there. The other site was Richard Beck’s blog, Experimental Theology. I’ve spent most of my offline web browsing at Experimental Theology checking out the archives. I’ve come across a lot that has resonated, piqued or stirred….and I plan to write about some of the topics here on my blog…..beginning with this one.
On Being a Practicing Christian: Orthodoxy and Orthopraxy – 6/23/06
New word for me…orthopraxy. But not a new concept to me or to Christianity. Actually, it's been the topic of much debate down through the centuries.
Faith vs. works. Right belief or right action. Faith IN Jesus or the faith OF Jesus. Orthodoxy or Orthopraxy?
The Bible is not silent on the issue. Trouble is, like most issues the Bible addresses, there are conflicting views both laid out in scripture.
James addresses it head on in James 2....
14What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? 15Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, 16and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? 17So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.
So does Paul….
(Ephesians 2:8-9) - "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast."
And so does Richard Beck on his blog
For me, beliefs are like the tides, they ebb and flow. But how I treat my neighbor, how I practice my faith, should be constant and unchanging.
"How can you be actively engaged at church, call yourself a Christian, and be agnostic?" I responded, "Easy. You're a practicing Christian." The students responded, "What? How can you be a practicing Christian? If you don't believe then you are not a Christian." I responded, "Well, what about times when your faith fails or falters? Wouldn't continuing to practice Christianity during that dark time help keep your faith alive while you struggled? If so, practicing Christianity might actually be more important, more vital, than believing in Christianity.