Sunday, July 15, 2012

Out of Order

I just finished reading "The Fidelity of Betrayal" by Peter Rollins. It was refreshing. After years of time spent in circles that accepted only views that fit their rigid beliefs and viewed doubt as a disease to be cured, it was nice to find someone making the argument that doubt and questioning of beliefs are not evidence of lack of faith, but rather a necessary process of further exploring faith.

There was one section in particular that stood out to me. In the book, Rollins makes the argument that the current practice of Christianity often gets the order of faith backwards. In the current culture of Christianity, the order is generally belief, behavior, belonging. That is, anyone wishing to be a part of that community must first adhere to the beliefs of that community. Once they have expressed the correct beliefs, they are invited to participate in the behaviors of that community. And only when they have provided sufficient evidence through their professed beliefs and behavior are they accepted as fully belonging to that community.

Rollins argues that the example provided in the gospels is actually the opposite and is in the order of belonging, behavior, belief.  Rather than seeking out a profession of faith, Jesus simply called his disciples to join him. He did not stand on the shore and say "Hey, you! Yeah, you! So, would you be willing to accept me as your personal Lord and savior?" before extending the offer. He simply asked them to follow him. After they had made the decision to follow him, they were welcomed to share in the behaviors of that community. They shared meals and conversations while traveling throughout the land together. It was only through these experiences that they established their beliefs about Jesus.

Their belonging wasn't contingent upon them accepting the right way of thinking about him. They belonged because they were willing to come. Their behavior and shared rituals weren't necessarily an evidence of their faith, but rather a manner of engaging in a community that would ultimately inform their beliefs.

The more I consider this idea, the more I can't help but agree with Rollins on this one.