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Sunday, September 6, 2009

Religious heresy

PERHAPS THE GREATEST heresy of twentieth-century American religion was to make faith into a purely personal matter and a private affair, which went neatly with the rise of the consumer society...
 
With the advent of the television preachers, faith was turned into an occasion for conspicuous consumption and effective fund-raising.  Faith became merely another commodity: "I have it, and you don't."  Or worse, "Here's how you can get it too.  Our operators are standing by!"
 
But in the Bible, faith is not something you possess but rather something you practice.  You have to put it into action or it really doesn't mean anything.  Faith changes things.  It's the energy of transformation, both for individuals and for society.  (Jim Wallis)
 
"What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?  If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, "Depart in peace, be warmed and filled," but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?  Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.  But someone will say, "You have faith, and I have works." Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.  You believe that there is one God. You do well.  Even the demons believe—and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?" (James 2:14-20).
 
--Mike Benson

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