Sunday, March 18, 2012


Young friends who are believers but have no church home were over last night. I understand why they are distant and unltracautious about church - and they do lots of things to compensated for it in keeping contact with other young believers. Most people would have some disquiet about that because they feel that all young people should have a network of strong and mature believers around them for their upbuilding and edification. For me it's the opposite, or rather, the reverse. You have to be yoked to a certain percentage of knuckleheads or you don't grow in the faith. Yeah, that sounds cute and ironic, but I mean just that. If you have nothing but great Christian fellowship (We were really blessed!) then I'm not sure you've got the full package.


Anonymous said...

I'm not sure how exactly one is supposed to "grow in the faith". Either you believe in and accept Jesus Christ as your savior, or you don't; nothing else matters, according to my reading of the New Testament. Is it a matter of believing more fervently, more passionately? Seems a bit silly...

As for church... "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." You used friends in the plural form, therefore, as long as the two of them are together, Jesus is with them, can't ask for a better church than that!

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Anonymous - you're new here, aren't you?

If you are actually asking about growing in the faith, we might be able to be of some service here. If you are making the doctrinal statement that "faith" is a checked box on the spiritual passport with no possibility of it being greater or lesser, however, please refrain from teaching Bible until you've learned more than soulwinner cliches. It is not merely that you might be annoying, but that you might be jeopardising the faith of others.

It is wise to be cautious with pronouncements. Remember that false teaching, not bad language, is the meaning of "taking the Lord's name in vain", and one of the most condemned sins in the scripture.

Anonymous said...

Nope, not new, been following you for over a year, and I love your blog.

Can you quote Jesus about growing in faith? I'm not trying to be a troll, it's not a hypothetical question. Does Jesus ever outline any sort of "hierarchy of faith"? It seems to me the exchange with the disciples arguing over who would be on his right hand side... goes directly against the idea. But I'm willing to reconsider.

james said...

Someone compared the difference between a para-church group like "CRU" and a church to the difference between a group of friends and a family. The writer was lauding the parish church concept: you don't go where it is comfortable, you grow where you're planted and needed.

When you're with a group that's just like you, large classes of needs and obligations vanish. They'll still get sick, have relationship problems, and so on, but you won't have to bite your tongue when trying to serve, or run into uncomfortable styles, or decide if politics is more important than Christian brotherhood. There are limits to what you'll be called to do.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Well, I am often hasty. Sorry if I misread you.

Paul talks about pursuing sanctification in II Cor. Hebrews has a similar statement in Chap 11 or 12.

Peter tells us to grow in grace in his first letter and grow in salvation in his second - though I admit I am not sure what he means in the latter.

As for Jesus, when He calms the storm, and when He heals the boy in Matthew and tells the disciples they don't have enough faith; the whole fig tree episode a little later says the same. Gospel according to John, Chapter (mumble), He tells Phillip to grow up in his faith.

What am I missing here, where you see that faith is an either-or?

Anonymous said...

Yes, those are some good references, thank you. I guess we're approaching it with different goals... the way I was approaching it, salvation was the sole goal. No-one would argue that Phillip was condemned to Hell if he didn't grow in his faith. But I can't argue your quotes, so I'll have to concede Jesus did have some kind of hierarchy of faith in mind.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Seems like an awfully quick capitulation, anon. Just because I was rude the first time doesn't mean you can't fight back.

You can always switch sides later, as the medieval rabbis did.

karrde said...


the word "hierarchy" sounds kind of odd alongside the phrase "grow in the faith".

A hierarchy is a constructed thing. It has a design and a plan.

Most of the references to faith, especially growing in faith, speak of seeds/planting/growing/harvest. They are comparisons to organisms, and not hierarchical.

When Paul speaks of the difference between imperfect knowledge and perfect knowledge (late in 1 Cor. 13), he uses the comparison of boyhood to manhood.

Jesus speaks of the Path to Life, as opposed to the Path to Destruction. A Path isn't a place that is arrived at, it is a series of places that leads us to a destination.

IF there is a hierarchy in the Kingdom of Heaven, then the One at the top of the hierarchy has put everyone in their proper place. (Jesus did speak of the Least and the Greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven...which I think you refer to.)

Admittedly, you can't ask for a better church than being with a friend and Jesus.

Analogy: if you have a spouse or a significant other, being with that person is better than being without that person.

But the relationship is something that grows and matures. And being with that person in McDonalds for a first date is different than being with that person next to the fireplace at home on the tenth anniversary.

Lelia Rose Foreman said...

I've seen enough just Jesus and me people to think such an attitude is bad. I had lunch with a guy to talk about his writing. He had visited our church and declined to join. I didn't care and asked where he was going. He said he and some friends were meeting in a coffee shop so I dragged up the distillation of what I think about that, "If you can't be in a church with people who will embarrass you, then you are too proud."
He surprised me by laughing hard and then writing it down.

Texan99 said...

For me, growing in faith is learning to weather various trials. Not that I will ever quit screwing up, but over time I'm exposed to enough different ways to be led to screw up that they're not all complete surprises that can take me unawares.

I see all of Jesus's lessons and parables as ways of emphasizing the same message in a wide variety of circumstances. He's always answering some version of "Keep your eye on the ball. You're worrying about the wrong thing, getting hung up on the wrong distinction. Turn yourself to God and the rest of it will work itself out eventually." So the message is in some sense always the same message, but it is applied to a lifetime's worth of places where we'd be likely to stumble on the path, and therefore is a means of growth.