Giant Theology: If you believe a thing, live it!

Next week I will blogreview Phyllis Tickle’s new book Emergence Christianity. A Little Preview: this is a fascinating, well-written book backed with up-to-date analysis of the Emerging/Emergent church movement. I am even thinking about attending Tickle’s national conference in January. If you are interested, it is @ “Join Phyllis and Friends.”

Before I do a more full-blown review, though, I want to cherry-pick a piece of Giant Theology from the book, what Tickle calls an Emergence Christianity mantra,

If you believe a thing, live it!

I have just taught through the book of James, and there are certainly echoes here of James’s mantra, “Faith without works is dead.” But this is coming at the issue from the other end. James is saying you can evaluate your faith by how you live. A lively, true faith will have evidence. A dead, useless faith will have not impact on one’s life. This mantra from the Emergents is more direct: Quit messing around. This is serious. Live your faith. Good works start with faith.

I have always questioned the church’s strategy of teaching members what they must believe. It seems to me that doesn’t work very well anymore, and maybe it never did. I grew up with Catholic friends who had memorized large parts of their catechism (teaching) but did not believe it. I do think that church leaders teach what the Bible says and that people will incorporate that teaching into their belief systems on a personal level. This is true whether the teacher likes it or not. If the teacher is persuasive as a person and in his or her teachings, it is likely that persuasion will take place with his or her students = faith positions. But what good is faith that is not lived? If we say we believe that Jesus is Lord, that is more than a propositional statement or historical factoid. It should influence how we live. When we realize that Jesus, our acknowledged Lord, teaches that we should forgive others as we have been forgiven (i.e., freely), but we harbor grudges or resentment, we are not living what we say we believe.

If you believe a thing, live it! 

I like that, and that is Giant Theology.

Mark Krause
Nebraska Christian College

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One thought on “Giant Theology: If you believe a thing, live it!

  1. I came across some of her “Daily Hours” prayer books at Half-Price books awhile ago and have been using them as devotional literature off and on ever since. I have the utmost respect for Ms. Tickle

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