Thursday, February 14, 2008

Real Christianity

In 1797 William Wilberforce published "A Practical View of the Prevailing Religion System of Professed Christians in the Higher and Middle Classes in This Country, Contrasted with Real Christianity." Bob Belz has revised and updated Wilberforce's book in modern language for those who are not used to or willing to read the more lengthy writings of our forbears. He calls it "Real Christianity".
Wilberforce's heart cry was to what he called cultural Christians. People who consider themselves "a "good" person and are against "bad" things" and believe their faith to be adequate. People who "might understand the Christianity our culture has adopted without understanding what constitutes authentic faith." People who "know some of the basic facts about Christianity but have no idea how those facts should apply to your life."
Wilberforce continues: "Do cultural Christians view Christian faith as important enough to make it a priority when teaching their children what they believe and why they believe it? Or do they place greater emphasis on their children getting a good education than on learning about the things of God? Would they be embarrassed if their children did not posses the former while basically being indifferent about the latter? If their children have any understanding of Christian faith at all, they probably have acquired it on their own. If the children view themselves as Christians, it is probably not because they have studied the facts and come to a point of intellectual conviction but because their family is Christian, so they believe they must be Christians also.
The problem with this way of thinking is that authentic faith cannot be inherited. When Christianity is viewed in this way, intelligent and energetic young men and women will undoubtedly reach a point where they question the truth of Christianity and, when challenged, will abandon this "inherited" faith that they cannot defend. They might begin to associate with peers who are unbelievers. In this company, they will find themselves unable to intelligently respond to objections to Christianity with which they are confronted. Had they really known what they believe and why they believe it, these kinds of encounters would not shake their faith one bit."
Wilberforce comments, "I fear for the future of authentic faith in our country. We live in a time when the common man in our country is thoroughly influenced by the current climate in which the cultural and educational elite propagates an anti-Christian message."
Throughout his book Wilberforce remarks how the "majority of so-called Christians have such little understanding of the real nature of the faith they profess." He remarks that the conduct of these professing Christians "is not measured against the standard set by the gospel. They have developed their own philosophies, which they attempt to pawn off as Christian faith."
I urge you to read his writings either in the original or in the updated version. It makes you feel that Wilberforce is alive and writing today. It makes you wish that all the people calling themselves Christians in our nation would read it and at least learn intellectually that they are not practicing authentic faith, probably because they do not have it. It makes you understand more pointedly that real Christianity is not about going out and grabbing all the lost and getting them through the church doors. It is about receiving the grace of God for salvation and for living true faith. It is about living faithful lives day in and day out in the calling God gave you and most especially in your own families. It is about building faithful families, raising faithful children, building faithful churches, and thus following God's program for church growth, missions, and nation building.

--posted by Queen Lucy

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

"For what great nation is there that has God so near to it, as the LORD our God is to us, for whatever reason we may call upon Him? And what great nation is there that has such statutes and righteous judgments as are in all this law which I set before you this day? Only take heed lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. And teach them to your children and your grandchildren."Deut. 4:7-9
"Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. When your son asks you in time to come, saying, 'What is the meaning of the testimonies, the statues, and the judgments which the LORD our God has commanded you?' then you shall say to your son: 'We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, and the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand; and the LORD showed signs and wonders before our eyes, great and severe, against Egypt, Pharaoh, and all his household. Then He brought us out from there, that He might bring us in, to give us the land of which He swore to our fathers. And the LORD commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that He might preserve us alive, as it is this day. Then it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to observe all these commandments before the LORD our God, as He has commanded us.' Deut 6:4-9,20-25
"Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the LORD your God will set you high above all nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the LORD your God: Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the country. Blessed shall be the fruit of your body, the produce of your ground and the increase of your herds, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flocks. blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out.
The LORD will establish you as a holy people to Himself, just as He has sworn to you, if you keep the commandments of the LORD your God and walk in His ways.
But it shall come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of the LORD your God to observe carefully all His commandments and His statutes which I command you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you: cursed shall you be in the city and cursed shall you be in the country. Cursed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. Cursed shall be the fruit of your body and the produce of your land, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flocks. Cursed shall you be when you come in, and cursed shall you be when you go out. Your sons and your daughters shall be given to another people, and your eyes shall look and fail with longing for them all day long and there shall be no strength in your hand. Moreover all these curses shall come upon you and pursue and overtake you, until you are destroyed, because you did not obey the voice of the LORD your God, to keep His commandments and His statutes which He commanded you. And they shall be upon you for a sign and a wonder, and on your descendants forever. Because you did not serve the LORD your God with joy and gladness of heart, for the abundance of everything.
If you do not carefully observe all the words of this law that are written in this book, that you may fear this glorious and awesome name, THE LORD YOUR GOD, then the LORD will bring upon you and your descendants extraordinary plagues and serious and prolonged sicknesses." Deut 28:1-6,9,15-19,32,45-47,58,59
"I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you , that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the LORD your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days." Deut 30:19,20

Parents, love the LORD your God as He desires and His promises for His blessings will flow down to your children and grandchildren and their children. By obeying the LORD your God, which is only found in Christ, your descendants will be blessed with the same faith as you have. But beware parents, to keep all diligence to hold fast to Him and trust Him with all your heart, abiding in Christ, or you all shall fall.
"Choose life, that both you and your descendants may live."

Idaho Hobbits said...

Thanks for all the great Scriptural reminders of what our educational program for our Christian children should be.