Bible Believing or Christ Following?

July 24, 2008 at 1:30 pm 8 comments

I’m continuing to enjoy reading Doug Pagitt’s A Christianity Worth Believing. In Chapter 6, Doug says,

Like many people, I believe in the Bible because I believe in God. But I know plenty of people who think it ought to happen the other way around, that a person needs to believe in the Bible in order to believe in God.

I’m wondering what others think about this statement. I also find it interesting that many “what we believe” statements that churches post on their website or print on their bulletins start with “We believe in the … Bible.” Also, is it more important what a church believes or what they do? Personally, I’m looking for a community of Christ followers.

Which are you?

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Born Again Church Tour 2008 – Again More on A Christianity Worth Believing…

8 Comments

  • 1. cindyinsd  |  August 6, 2008 at 11:17 pm

    Hi, Elizabeth

    I’ve been exploring the organic church movement, too. I’d love to find a “community of Christ followers” as you put it. It turns out this isn’t an easy thing to find.

    I’m thinking about your quote . . . the Bible is more than a collection of books. It’s the word of God. Jesus is the Word. Listening, studying, learning with an open mind will, I think, bring people to a belief in God just as that belief in God feeds belief in the Bible. God’s word is alive and powerful, as anyone who has spent time meditating in it will confirm. I’m not sure you can separate the two and say the word of God came first or the Word that is God came first.

    True belief affects actions, and actions without true belief are dead. (I think that may be a loose paraphrase from the book of James, now that I write it.) So yes, it does matter more what a group of believers (church) believes. We can, for a limited time at least, manufacture actions on our own, but works that flow from genuine faith are the sort of works that please God. Otherwise, they’re dead–not going anywhere–not going to last–wood, hay, and stubble.

    I’ve subscribed to your blog and am looking forward to your observations from the conference you’re attending. 🙂

    Grace and peace,

    Cindy

  • 2. Elizabeth Chapin  |  August 9, 2008 at 11:55 am

    Cindy, thanks for the comment. I’ve been on vacation and haven’t had internet access as much as I hoped. I just finished A Christianity Worth Believing and will blog about it soon. I hope to hear more from you. You said, “We can, for a limited time at least, manufacture actions on our own…” I find this train of thought interesting. This is one of the mysteries of faith in God – how can we know for sure whether our actions are in concert with God or not? Is it based upon whether that action is specifically mentioned in the Bible? Where does the leading of the Spirit come into all this?

  • 3. cindyinsd  |  August 9, 2008 at 6:20 pm

    Hi, Elizabeth

    I hope you had a restful vacation. I’m thinking about your questions . . . “How can we know for sure whether our actions are in concert with God?” First, I know from experience that when my actions clash with God, the Holy Spirit lets me know pretty quickly.

    But that isn’t quite what you’re talking about, I think. What if we’re doing “good” things, but not the good things God had in mind for us to do? Let’s say I decide, on my own, to start a homeless shelter. A good thing, right? But what if the thing God really wanted me to do was to teach art in the local public school? Both good things. How do we know? Sometimes it’s not easy.

    Spending time with God, praying, practicing His presence, worshiping, studying, meditating on His word–these things seem to help me to hear His voice. For a long time (and still, sometimes), I wondered how people could possibly know what God wanted them to do. Then I kind of gave up and stopped worrying about it and centered my life on trying to learn how to love God and, without trying or even thinking about it, the knowing of what I was to do comes along (most of the time.)

    I think you get the leading of the Spirit when you learn to listen, and you learn to listen (and hear) by practicing and practicing and practicing.

    In the truly Christian life, I think faith comes first and works follow. But if works don’t follow, I think that means that the thing we called faith was dead. I’m just musing and am interested in your opinion on all this.

    God bless,

    Cindy

  • 4. Elizabeth Chapin  |  August 11, 2008 at 9:29 am

    Cindy, I agree that “you get the leading of the Spirit when you learn to listen, and you learn to listen (and hear) by practicing and practicing and practicing.” One of my favorite books on the topic of listening to God is called Can you Hear Me?

    I fear many Christians try following a set of principles and beliefs, ideas in book, rather than a person. Jesus hoped we would do works greater than he did, so there must be a way for that to happen – faith and then works as a result of the cooperative friendship with the God of the universe. Together we can do what we could never do alone.

  • 5. cindyinsd  |  August 13, 2008 at 8:36 pm

    Hi, Elizabeth

    Jesus didn’t just hope–He said we would do greater works–well, He said the people to whom He was speaking would do greater works. Was that all of us, or just His immediate audience? I kind of think it meant all of us, but why don’t we see this happening? Surely there have been more spiritual people than me both in the past and today, so how can I ever hope to attain to this promise?

    This is a question I’ve been wrestling with for a long time. Do you have any ideas?

    Cindy

  • 6. Elizabeth Chapin  |  August 25, 2008 at 3:47 pm

    Cindy, I too wrestle with this question. I have been involved in the charismatic movement off and on over the years, and in that I sometimes find more hope, but there are issues there as well. I am truly seeking a balanced place where miracles happen but the ordinary is also valued as a place for God to show up. One thing is for certain, I hope to never give up hope and continue to seek God and join God wherever I find the Spirit at work in my world today.

  • 7. Joe Burnham  |  October 22, 2008 at 6:47 am

    Sorry, since I just started following you on Twitter, I’m just now getting to your blog and reading some old posts.

    The thing that strikes me as odd about this whole reality, is that it wasn’t even an option for the first Christians because there wasn’t a Bible as we understand it today. Sure you had the Old Testament, but to understand that properly they needed Jesus and his exposition of it. Sure they had some letters from Paul, or maybe even the entire collection by the early Second Century, but it wasn’t something in the hands of the masses so it wasn’t something they held onto, rather, it was something that was heard to help them understand the One they were following.

    It makes me wonder if “Bible-believers” who aren’t “Christ-followers” really should have a different name, idolaters.

  • 8. Elizabeth Chapin  |  October 22, 2008 at 8:34 am

    Joe, thanks for checking out my blog! Nice thoughts here on first Christians and a new name for Bb’s who aren’t Cfs. I visited your blog too, just lurking though…

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