Under the Rug: Faith Is Not All We Need

ImageA friend shared this quote from a fellow blogger tonight:

“We say, ‘All we need is faith in Christ, everything else is secondary.’

How does this work in the real world, though? For this statement to have meaning, we must define Christ, which means having a Christology. We must define ‘faith,’ which implies a soteriology. We must define ‘secondary,’ and we also must draw the line as to at what point ‘everything else’ can be considered as something other that Christology and soteriology.

Can we even make this distinction? Dare we? What part(s) of faith (and practice!) do we dare separate from our Christology (who Christ is)? What part of Christ is ‘secondary?'” –Arctic Pilgrim

Very recently I had a conversation with a friend on Facebook where he had put up a status about Christian unity. I kindly asked him to define unity for me. I also told him he can’t define unity without a set of theological beliefs. He and his friends kept carrying this theme of “all that matters is that we believe in Christ”. However, I kindly pointed out that demons, heretics, and plenty of people believe in Christ. I wanted to expose this thinking, in a respectful way, for what it is: false!

Belief in Christ is not all we need! 

Faith in Christ is not all we need! 

This is a false belief often purposed as a false sense of ecumenism. I respect those who make those arguments; please don’t take this the wrong way. However, they are completely and utterly wrong. One can’t have faith without a set of beliefs and theological grounding! I encouraged those in that very fruitful conversation to think about this more. I asked would they fellowship with Mormons or other cults that fall outside the realm of historic Christian doctrine? They all said no they wouldn’t. This reveals that even those who preach “All we need is faith in Christ; everything else is secondary” are 1) very inconsistent and 2) Realize that we need doctrine, theology, and belief.

Our Faith is not about whether we believe in Christ or don’t. 

It is about WHAT we believe about Christ and whether we accept the traditioned Gospel handed down to us in word and letter!

And WHAT we believe about Christ is theologically-driven. There is no way around that. We can preach “All we need is faith in Christ” until we are blue in the face, but when it comes down to it we do not rely solely on faith, for faith is first and foremost born out of theology or the acceptance of theology.

The Apostles began to believe only after the Passion, after the Resurrection. They read the Scriptures in light of the Passion and saw, theologically, that Christ was who He said He was. They came to see and know by understanding theologically thus their faith was born.

Without theology there is no faith, without doctrine there is no faith. The doctrine of faith itself is soteriologically-driven. If you have faith you believe in 1) a God and 2) He has acted, and 3) you have experienced Him.

It is nice sentiment to say “All we need is faith in Christ”, but it simply does not hold any water. I find it to be a dishonest attempt at handling the issues of Christianity unity and all the schism. Instead, let us be honest and own the schism and disunity and seek to promote healthy, dialogue that  engages truly with what we all really do believe and what we don’t believe. Let us have a serious talk about it instead of glossing it over with trite, weak platitudes that sweep everything under the rug.

Christian unity cannot come about as long as we gloss over the disunity, ignore it, or seek to soften it up. It cannot happen without real talk about belief and doctrine. It also can’t happen without reconciliation. We must seek to bring it all into the Light rather than sweeping it under the rug.

Let’s lay down our brooms and get to conversation. And let’s face it: faith isn’t all we need. Pardon the pun, but no one sincerely believes that if they are honest in how they feel and think about life and faith.

Theology, it’s a part of life; it’s a part of faith.

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About Joel

Joel is a 32 year old currently residing in the southeastern United States. His interests lay in philosophy and theology. He is a writer for The Christian Watershed.

4 thoughts on “Under the Rug: Faith Is Not All We Need

  1. Did you hear Father’s recent homily about Orthodoxy being the grown-up version of Christianity? I think it was on the Feast of the Dormition. He pointed out that the explanation we give to a child is not the same we give to a pre-teen and that is not the same we give to a teen.
    The point was that our Faith ultimately is paradoxical and difficult to put into words. It cannot be reduced to a Sunday School lesson for a 5-year old.

    (As an aside, check out Fr. Irenei’s discussion of Moses on the Mountian here:http://www.ancientfaith.com/podcasts/holyfathers/god_is_there_where_the_understanding_does_not_reach1 . He makes the point that true knowledge of God ultimately transcends even our ability to describe that knowledge. A very good piece.)

    Anyway, I think there is some fear of intellectualism in what you describe as well as a mistaken belief that simple is better. I mean, it is easy to say that God is Three-in-one or that Jesus is the God-man. It is simple to say those words, but how do I explain them. Not easy.

    • No, I didn’t catch it, but I wish I had of. I don’t think we got there in time that day. But what he says is true.

      I’ll check out that podcast. thanks for the link.

      I agree, i do think it is to some degree a level of anti-intellectualism and love of ahistorical theological/ecclesiology at that. I think it is a symptom of dumbing things down.

      • That is part of it, yet the division of His Church can not be easily healed by just playing stupid, there are major controversies with in His Church even among those of the same denominations and the end result is that it is hard to deliver the Gospel. Where is the good news in a heated argument??? Where is the peace??? Who wants to get in the middle of a thousand year argument??? I pray that as with all things that His will be done+++

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