by Barry Newton
If Regis Nicoll’s assertion is correct that “faith is confirmed not in what we say (our beliefs), but in what we do (our behaviors),” he accurately draws a shocking corollary based upon Barna.
Well, perhaps his unavoidable conclusion is not so disturbing. After all, we have grown up reading the biblical letter of James: “faith without works is dead,”/1 “be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves,”/2 and, as for the person who does not bridle his tongue, “his religion is worthless.”/3
Among those who study their Bibles, this is old news, having been expressed innumerable times. Another repetition may garner little more than a yawn from the faithful.
And yet, the starkness of Regis’ statement penetrates.
“Behavioral studies by various pollsters suggest that many Americans who self-identify as Christians are functional non-Christians — if not atheists — because their lives reflect neither the teachings nor the example of Jesus Christ. By their words, they profess faith in Christ, but by their actions, they reveal their faith is in something else.”/4
An oxymoronic scene unfolds: Functional atheists and non-Christians convinced heaven one day awaits them. All the while, their hearts unrelentingly pump through their veins the pursuit of earth-bound security and self-determination.
Perhaps nestled among the new year’s resolutions should be the intention to devote time meditating on how faith should shape life as well as the determination to act accordingly.
1/ James 2:26.
2/ James 1:22.
3/ James 1:26.
4/ “Salvo,” Winter 2010: 16.