Talk Back 18
Christianity the religion vs. Christianity the faith
by Matthew Brooks
To open a discussion on this article, please use the contact page to provide your comments.
Throughout your website, I see references to the belief that "faith" is a waste of time and that most Apathetic Agnostics have better things to do with their time than to worry about whether or not a God exists. There are also many references to atrocities that have been committed throughout history under the name of Christianity which are used to cite a negative influence of Christianity (and other religions?).
I would like to point out that there is a strong difference between Christianity the religion and Christianity the faith, and that one does not always equal the other. I believe that Christianity the religion is an invention of man and as such will always be flawed. This religion, as a set of guidelines for its followers, has changed throughout time and space based on the needs of various groups who practice it. The fact that this religion has been and likely will continue to be twisted into less than perfect sets of beliefs is inevitable. I can only hope that everyone, not just Christians can learn from these mistakes and flaws as they occur.
Christianity the faith, as opposed to Christianity the religion, is based on a personal relationship with God, rather than on following the doctrine of a church. The religion is sometimes designed around maintaining this relationship, but it does not define it. This relationship is also the cornerstone of our beliefs, and it yields the immeasurable proof in our hearts that God does exist and that he does care about and do things in our lives. There is no scientific proof of this, but it is felt nonetheless and this is why I can never accept the beliefs of agnosticism.
Finally, ignoring the fact that faith is much more than just believing in something that is unknowable, faith also has one particular benefit to society. It gives hope. Hope that there is rest for the weary, that not all will end when we go out of this dreary world. Hope that when everyone else in this world forsakes us, there is someone who else who still cares and who is all that we need. Not everyone in the world is able to have fun and enjoy life to its fullest while here. But even for those who can, the intense love and joy that comes from a relationship with God can never be replaced by belonging to a Web-based religion whose defining motto is "We don't know and we don't care". Everything else about Christianity is just details and is unimportant compared to the relationship.
Editor's Note: The above is the original submission. I questioned Matthew where in the site he had found a statement that we considered faith is a waste of time - not to challenge him - but so I might reconsider the specific words I had used and amend them if necessary. In return he added the following. And I would agree that he could very well be right about the concept being implicit, even though the exact words are not there.
I admit that I cannot point to a specific instance where the wording I chose is used on your website; rather, that is the overall feeling that I got as I perused the essays and meditations.
I did not choose to write into talkback intending to try and convert you or any of the members of your church, as seems to be the case with much of the other submissions that are posted. I believe that the "leap of faith" as it is called is something that is personal and any attempt to coerce someone into taking it will only make the experience unpleasant at best.
I grew up in a typical Protestant Christian home, went to Sunday school every single weekend for the first thirteen years of my life, yet for as long as I could remember I considered myself an agnostic because I felt as your church does that without any proof of God's existence I should not waste my life pursuing Him. As it turns out, six years ago I woke up with a complete change in my beliefs. I was not in a church, I was not "knocked down" by God, and I didn't speak in tongues. I simply woke up, literally, after a normal night and just felt all of a sudden that God was there, that he had touched me and made His presence known to me in a way that cannot be explained. Of course, I still had to deal with all of my existing beliefs that I used to justify my ignorance of Him. That was where faith came in to the picture...as soon as I accepted the possibility that He did exist and did care about us, then I found acceptable explanations for my previous beliefs. I will not trouble anyone with them on this site, because they are the products of my faith and not "proof" and will likely not mean anything to those who do not have the same faith.
I guess my final message, if I have one, is that every person should leave themselves open to faith if God should happen to make Himself known to you.