Friday, January 16, 2009

Strength of Faith (2)

During Gary's first two years of seminary, Pastor Baker came to the sem one morning a week for Bible class with sem wives. It was great. During Gary's fourth year, someone decided that this should be discontinued and we should get with the modern way of doing things and have small-group Bible class. So the wives were bunched together by neighborhood and time availability, and we were told to pick something to study together. Our group chose What Happens When Women Pray. It's not good.

The book is full of works-righteousness and the theology of glory. I brought up points for discussion; most of the group disagreed with me. The real killer was when we got to the part of the book that said God refused to hear your prayers until you had figured out each and every sin you had ever committed, and asked for forgiveness for that specific sin. (The illogic is mind-boggling. If you can't remember all your sins, then you should pray for enlightenment to know your sin so that you might confess it so that you could get right with God so that He would listen to your prayers.) It was at this point that several of the women decided I was no Christian. They determined to pray for my conversion and enlightenment. (They also decided to go to the administration and tell them that Gary was not fit for a call, considering he had a pagan wife like me, but that's another part of the story entirely.)

I remember being offended that they considered me to be an unbeliever.

Fast-forward several years. I got involved with some homeschool groups. At two different points, women in the homeschool groups decided I was not a true believer. They prayed for my conversion too. By now, I had mixed feelings. On the one hand, I was thankful that they were praying for me. They were praying that I would believe in Jesus, that I would be His disciple, that I would live the life of a true believer. Now, who can complain about that? I pray those same things for myself! Hooray that they're joining me in those prayers! And yet ... there was still something that bothered me about it. It wasn't what they were saying about my sin and unbelief, though. The terrible thing was what they were saying about Jesus. HE baptized me. HE claimed me. HE speaks His words of love and mercy to me. And when somebody implies that I don't have His love, when somebody implies that my baptism is nothing, that's just plain wrong.

Basically, it got down to the different views of faith. If faith is my act of believing, then of course it's questionable as to its strength and durability. But if faith is about the objective work of the Son of God for me and the whole world (and that I cling to what He has done), then raising questions about someone's faith could actually be turning him from Christ to navel-gazing.


  1. It's almost like (as weird as this sounds) it's possible to make faith itself an idol.

    If an idol is anything we look to for help and comfort other than God, then trying to ascertain the condition or amount of our own faith is exactly that, or at least, it *can* become that.

    Not sure if I'm making sense.

  2. Actually, yes, as weird as it sounds, "faith" can become an idol. That doesn't negate the truth that we need faith, and that faith saves. But if the devil can twist even faith into an idol, why wouldn't he try?

  3. I don't know that book, although it's got a lot of 5-star reviews at Amazon, I see. Personally, the title bugs me. Why 'women'? Why not 'people'?

    Anyways, I'm sorry about your experience with the homeschoolers. Almost all of the dissent I've witnessed between homeschooling moms (and there's been a lot of it over the years) was fighting over belief, denomination, scriptural interpretation, etc. I always thought we should keep that out of support groups, as the resulting disputes are a terrible witness to secular homeschoolers.