Thanks to Dan Lyke for the link!
While I was over at his site this evening, I noticed there was a discussion that started off with Dan saying that while he enjoyed the musicality of Gospel Music, he couldn’t stand the lyrics. I imagine I can take a lot more of it than he can, but some lyrics that Gospel music produces are just wrong. Yes, some Christians have trouble listening to a lot of the Gospel music out there.
There are a couple of interesting stories in that discussion. ziffle relates a time when he went to sing with the choir as a child:
As I read the words, I was shocked. Things like ‘Jesus died and now we are all guilty for that’ – I don’t remember exactly, but ‘his blood is on our hands’, and so forth. I could hardly sing – it was so aweful.
I hope he isn’t shocked to learn that I wouldn’t be able to sing lyrics like that, either.
Then Dori Smith gave me a shock when she said:
My understanding was (seriously!) that all the major sects had agreed fairly recently (like in the last decade) that good works were no longer necessary and that faith was all.
Dori, the Orthodox are the second largest group of Chistian Churches in the world and we (along with the largest church) certainly have never agreed that doing good was not necessary. Dori immediately follows the above statement with:
Which sects say that faith in Jesus isn’t sufficient?
Now, as I said there, I’ll say here: It all depends on what you mean by “faith”.
Many modern Christians seem to like to promote a Christianity that is simply an intellectual assurance of salvation. “Think these special thoughts“, they seem to say “and you’re in!.“
Anyone who could read Jesus’ own words would see that this is not the case: And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward. Even this simple statement shows that doing good does matter.
Now, Dori’s second statement, the sufficiency of faith in Christ for a Christian gets us closer to a point where Christians all agree but speak different languages.
It is as if the Free Software people started talking with the Open Source people. They share a paradigm — promotion of software that be used and updated and redistributed without paying for the priviledge — but their focus is different, so there is apparent conflict.
Which brings me back to the point about faith. The way Christians use the word “Faith” is often confusing in the same way that the FSF uses the word “Free”. Here is the key to decoding the mess: As much as many Christians want to make Christianity into a transaction — buy your ticket to heaven by thinking the right thoughts — it isn’t. Christianity has never taught that one simply needs to have the right thought process to achieve the rewards offered. While “faith” is an accurate word to describe what is required to be a Christian, perhaps it would be better to point out that we are called to unity with God. This section of the Gospels in particular shows the falseness of some sort of intellectual-only faith
One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: `Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.'”
Without context saying “faith in Jesus is sufficient” is as accurate as saying “free software doesn’t cost money”. They are abolutely true, but, stripped of context, the words are stripped of meaning.