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Spirituality for the Skeptic




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BY FAITH ALONE? NOTHING ELSE?

FAITH ALONE, OR DORMANT DEPENDENCE?

Woman standing in cemetery
Passive faith goes just so far.

Aside from bigoted violence and
ignorant superstition, a serious 
pitfall of blind faith can be a
dormant dependency on God while
doing nothing for yourself or
others.  In fact Christian
fundamentalists have a glib
motto for such lack of moral and
personal ambition, namely: "Not
by works but faith alone".
 
On the one hand this motto can help
separate church from state.  We do
not  need a theocratic takeover. 
For the fanatics in religion are
fundamentalists and dogmatists who
would be quite content to have the
government run by superstitious
beliefs - even to the point of
pushing towarda climactic, nuclear
Armageddon.
 
But on the other hand Christians
-Protestants and Catholics alike
- have committed the most
horrendous sins of omission by
disparaging the social gospel of
helping the poor and resisting
dictators of oppression, thereby
giving secular movements like
Communism free reign in claiming
to do it for them. But such social
callousness remains even now in
some Christian quarters, when
Communism is dead in most
countries.
 
 
CORRECTING THE CONCEPT:
 
First of all, this do-nothing
motto stems from a
misunderstanding of Paul's
preachings.  In order to
break away from Judaism, Paul
had to also break away from
strict Jewish laws involving  
circumcision, food prohibitions,
voluminous rituals and the like. 
Therefore he emphasized rebirth
into a new covenant of grace not
by works of the Law but by faith
itself.  He said nothing about
stopping good works and deeds in
the world.
 
Reading Paul's Epistles, you will
constantly see his admonishing works
of the law - not works and deeds
outside Jewish law.  "Therefore by
deeds of the law no flesh will be
justified in his sight; for by the
law is knowledge of sin." (Romans
3:28) "Israel did not find the
righteousness of faith because 
they sought salvation through
works of the law." (Romans 9: 31-32) 
"One is not justified by works of
the law but by faith in the Christ...
by works of the law no works shall
be justified." (Galatians 2:16)
 
 
Augustine repeated this teaching
against ritual salvation in the early
dark ages to discourage those trying
to conjure Christ through magic. 
Luther and Calvin did so to oppose
benefices paid to the Roman Church. 
But these men were discouraging what
they saw as empty ritual, magic, or
corrupt practices meant to appease,
conjure,or bribe God. 
 
However, nothing was said in the
Bible of forbidding loving deeds. 
In fact good deeds by themselves 
are encouraged and bad deeds
discouraged: "And it shall be as
the people, like the priests - so
I will punish them for their ways
and reward them for their deeds."
(Hosea 4:9)  "Assuredly I say to
you: As you did unto the least of
them, you did unto me."(Matt. 25:
40) "We receive true rewards for
our deeds."(Luke 23:41) "That 
those who believe in God should
be careful to maintain good works"
(Titus 3:8) 
 
You are merely admonished not to flaunt
your deeds before others: "Take heed
that you do not do your charitible deeds
before men to be seen by them.  Otherwise
you will have no reward from your Father
in Heaven" (Matthew 6:1)
 
 
Nor was anything said in the Bible of
not actualizing the gifts given you.
"And the greatest of these gifts is
love," states Paul. (1Cor. 13:13)  
"So let us consider each other in
order to stir up love and good works."
(Heb. 10:24). 
 
Therefore James states:
"What does it profit my brethern if
someone says he has faith abut does
not have good works?  Can faith save
him? If a brother or sister is
destitute of daily food ... but you
do not give him the tings that are
needed ... what does it profit?  Thus
by faith itself, if it does not have
works, is dead"(James 2: 14-15,20).  
 
So there is no longer a Biblical excuse
to let your gifts go dormant or ignore
those in
need.
 
 
DEAD VS. ENLIVENED FAITH
IN PERSONAL GROWTH:
 
Understanding faith as not just 
positive attitude but as
positive action is the key to
making it work optimally for you
and for others.  Suppose you seek
a healing.  There are two ways to
go about it. You could simply
ignore modern medicine and pray. 
Or you could find the best medical
attention possible - then pray. 
Only the most fanatical blind
believer would consider the first
choice more fruitful.  (Jesus said,
"There will be physicians after
me.")
 
Likewise, if you are seeking an
important discovery you could simply
sit back and pray for it, or you
could do the research till you get to
the brink and can go no farther - then
pray.  The greatest discoveries came
seemingly out of the blue, but only for
those who first did their homework and 
hence knew what to look for.
 
And so it will be with any goal you
seek.  Remember Scripture states: Seek
and you shall find. Ask and you shall
receive.  Knock and the door will be
opened to you.   But you first have to
Seek, Ask, or Knock."God helps those
who help themselves," indeed.
 
Where then does blind faith come in? 
It comes in after you have done all you
can to make things work - not before.  
In this way faith becomes more than a
passive hope.  It becomes instead an
alert vigil for the next opportunity 
after you reached an impasse at the
brink of what you desire. 
 
 So aside from positive thoughts and
action, where does blind faith in
obvious superstition come in?  To find
out, hit the link below.
 
 

IGNORANT SUPERSTITION: THE ANTIDOTE

THE BOOK OF THOMAS THE DOUBTER

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