Monday, June 25, 2018

Faith and Works

Faith can, and should lead one to good works. I don't find that good works lead to faith.  I first thought of this in terms of social action, noting that those who become involved in good works are in danger of redefining their faith in terms of the work. This audience will think first of liberals being in that danger, but there are those who take on education, especially homeschooling, as a task, or work for a candidate or political cause and come to see that as their mission.

They may earn respect from their secular colleagues, which feels like good PR for the church, but I don't see that they ever pass any of them back to us. It just doesn't work that way somehow. Dietrich Bonhoeffer thought that it might, and encouraged Christians to work on secular causes they believe in for that reason. Good works should be done whether they attract people to Christ or not. Yet I think people will be less tempted to be consumed by them if they lose the illusion that very many will come because of the works.

It may be that good works sustain faith in those that already have it.


Tom Grey said...

It might even be that "good works", like serving in a soup kitchen, leads people away from faith.
a) Too many poor -- something wrong in society
b) Not enough people helping, including both Christians and non-believers
c) More money would "solve" the problem
d) We need more gov't. QED
e) ... and maybe faith isn't so important

I've moved more towards faith because:
1) It's clear that Good and Evil exist, altho not all always agree on which is which
2) God is Good << the source of Goodness is God
2b) non-believers have alternate sources and often definitions for "good", but usually believe in that source, as a God-substitute. Political Correctness has become a God-sub for too many Dems.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

@ Tom Grey - People going on short-term missions are in particular danger of leaving the church, and presumably, the faith. Perhaps for a more general version of the reason you give in your first paragraph. They come up against evil, and the Christian response does not seem adequate, or the Christians do not seem adequate. A governmental solution looks more promising to them.

Texan99 said...

C.S. Lewis talked about gradually coming to see the church as a useful tool in accomplishing the good works that one has decided are the ultimate goal: the "Christianity and Spelling Reform" mindset. Myself, I'm all too prone to have a solitary life and neglect good works, so it's a good corrective for me. It makes me demonstrate that my faith isn't empty words, or cold judgmentalism, as it always threatens to be. For someone who tends to be active and helpful anyway, the balance might be different, and the temptation greater to obsess on the works and forget the faith. If I'm very lucky, I do something good that makes someone think, "Hey, maybe I should check this Christianity thing out" instead of "Good grief, what a hypocrite."