Friday, July 07, 2006
The Tao of Evangelicalism
The Wittenburg Door (The World's Pretty Much Only Religious Satire Magazine), recently had a humorous article about the Tao of the American Evangelical. One of the "proverbial" sayings especially resonated with me:

The student once came to the Master: "Oh Master, for the Tao to go in full circle, I must believe."
The Master replied, "Yes, my son, you must believe."
The student further questioned: "But you teach, dear Master, that it is unearned."
The Master replied, smiling: "You speak correctly. It is unearned."
The student probed further: "But Master, by believing, am I then earning?"
The Master grumbled: "Go away, for you are bothering the Tao."

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posted by Mike Clawson at 2:00 PM | Permalink |


At 7/07/2006 10:06:00 PM, Anonymous Andy

Hi Mike,

How did this resonate with you? Also, I'm not sure what it's supposed to be mocking--one of the solas? "just believe"-ism?


At 7/08/2006 01:44:00 PM, Blogger Mike Clawson

Hey Andy,

It resonated with me because it's one of the problems I have with evangelical theology - or at least some strains of it. At our previous church our pastor had started to get really into anti-Lordship theology, in other words he defined faith in Christ not as actual submission to Christ as Lord, but simply and only as intellectual assent to the proposition that Jesus is Lord (i.e. God) and that he rose from the dead. As long as one was able to cognitively agree to that statement one was "saved" (i.e. going to Heaven when you died). It didn't matter whether agreeing to that statement ever made any difference in one's life or whether one actually lived as if Jesus was in fact their Lord, as long as one had prayed that prayer then you were "in". My pastor contrasted this "just believe" view to what he saw as "works based salvation".

My problem with that theology is not so much that I think we have to earn God's grace, as that I don't think "just believing" is as easy as my pastor made it out to be. To him the evidence was clear and obvious and all we had to do was agree to what was right in front of us. Honestly I don't think he was capable of understanding what it's like for those of us who wrestle constantly with questions and doubts about our faith, and who intellectually and emotionally struggle every step of the way for every single one of our beliefs. For people like that "just believe" sounds an awful lot like another meritorious work that we have to do to earn God's love and salvation. Far from being "grace vs. works", this "just believe" theology ends up getting rid of every work except for one, and that one turns out to be the hardest work of all for those of us with a more skeptical and questioning nature.

So yeah, that's why that quip resonated with me. Thanks for asking. :)


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