Friday, July 26, 2013

Unfinished: Email Exchange

A Little Mental Exercise

Sometimes just reading a book is not enough. Sometimes we need to read and then discuss in order to fully exercise our intellectual powers and explore concepts using other senses. That's why it's good to summarize what you learned by rephrasing it in your own words.

I lent the book Unfinished: Believing is only the beginning (which I just reviewed) to a friend. I sent him an email to my review, which he read and reacted to. He gave me permission to publish his reaction below. It's always good to hear his thoughts on a spiritual topic as he merges both biblical and extra-biblical resources that relate to the subject. Enjoy!
There is a new movement afoot in evangelical Christianity.  It's really an old movement.  It goes back to the ancient church.  The medieval church lost sight of half of the truth.  The Reformers over-reacted and lost sight of the other half.  Bonhoeffer reminded the entire church of the cost of true discipleship, but sadly his message didn't take root throughout the whole body of Christ.  Stearns is a worthy successor of Bonhoeffer, however.  His latest book sounds like a rallying call to discover the true mission of the church, both as individuals and as a collective, namely, to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ by our mission.  

It's important to note that often unbelievers will ask when did Jesus proclaim Himself God.  The truth is He didn't have to say anything.  His works spoke louder than words.  By His deeds it was enough to show that Jesus was the Son of God, only begotten, One with the Father.  He could have preached until the end of time.  Instead, by His powerful works and signs, He testified to His true mission and identity.  It was there for all to see, even if they couldn't understand His message fully.  

Christians should thus follow the lead of Jesus and show who they are by their deeds.  As St. Francis of Assisi said: "Preach the gospels always; if necessary, use words." Words of faith are OK.  Works of faith (as opposed to merely good works done for man's glory) are better.  It's better to pray with the hungry of the world as you break bread with them than it is to simply pray for their needs or give them a theologically correct sermon about the spiritual merits of privation.  In fact, it's better to break bread with the hungry than it is to give money for their needs.  (Of course, it's better to be charitable with your treasure than to not be!)  Often we simply throw our money at a problem and feel justified.  It's so much more meaningful to those who are hurting to see faith and works come together and Christians really being there for them.

Once and for all we should do away with sterile Reformation-era polemics.  Good works apart from faith in Christ cannot save.  Yes.    But true faith is never absent love or charity.  As St. James said in his epistle, "Faith without works is dead."  (BTW: Even a casual perusal of St. Paul's writings evidences the same message.  Do the following exercise: Circle the word faith in his letters; then see how long it takes before he brings up the theme of love.)  As Pope Francis recently said, faith in Christ is what separates the charity of the Christian from the job of social worker.  So true, so true.

Do you have a reaction to this book? I'd love to hear it below...

Christopher M. Jimenez. Powered by Blogger.

Mailing List