Friday, May 21, 2010
When Christianity Is defined by Actions Instead of Belief
When Christianity is defined by actions and not belief, one of two things are more than likely to happen.
1) The gospel will be pushed out of the center and all but abandoned for the sake of the actions by which Christianity has now become defined by. The fact is that nearly all actions required of Christians are not distinctive to those who believe in the gospel. The one thing that separates Christians from everyone else is belief and trust in the gospel of grace in Jesus. There are countless people who are OK with "following Jesus" in his ethics while content to ignore his atonement.
2) The one thing that will define the Christian life will be the one thing that can separate us from others: evangelism. Witnessing/Personal Evangelism will and already has become the baseline for determining the status of whether a person is Christian in the current evangelical culture. This is the inevitable result of placing emphasis on works at the expense of belief.
In the first inevitability, the call to these deeds are biblical, explicit and agreed on by every believer, though there may be disagreement on how to do these actions in particulars. The difference is motivation. In the second inevitability, the call is not so explicit and certainly not the thrust of the NT since there is never one explicit call to personal evangelism. Of course this does not mean it cannot be effective or that we should not do it. But it does tell us that if it were the bottom line for defining Christian faithfulness, the Apostles would have been more explicit and well, there would have been more talk of it.
There may be other inevitabilities for defining the Christian life in terms of action over belief but these are certain - as they are being played out everywhere in the current evangelical climate.