How the Church Can Win the Culture War [QUOTE]

The church is elected to responsibility, called to be the church to and for the world–not in order to save it or conquer it or even transform it, but to serve it by showing what redeemed human community and culture look like, as modeled by the One whose cultural work led him to the cross. In short, we’re sent out to be martyrs, witnesses of the Crucified One. In that way, we win by losing.

–James K.A. Smith, Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, & Cultural Formation

What is Faith? (a call to Atheism)

art by Amy Roberts

art by Amy Roberts (see bottom for link)

My good friend Monica sent me an email with a link to this New York Times blog that had a little weekend competition:

define “Faith”

The post gave the Bible’s definition of faith, a few quotes from others on what faith is and then told other “co-vocabularists” to offer their definitions (the pithier the better).

In a display ad absurdem and ad nauseam of the make-up of NYTimes readers, the vast majority of “definitions” are atheistic rants about how faith is just believing things that are so plainly and clearly not true.  It’s the opiate of the masses.  It’s the crutch that helps weak-minded people get through life.  So on and so forth.

I understand the sentiment.  I do.  And I also see why they think that.  It was just comical seeing post after post after post of people that were so clearly speaking from such bitterness, hurt, and pain that went well beyond “calm, collected reason”.  Even the atheist puts some level of faith in things, even though they feel like this faith is justified by their logical deductions.  Faith isn’t a bad word.  It doesn’t have to be religious at all.  My mac dictionary’s first definition for it is “complete trust or confidence in someone or something.”  The second definition is the religious one!  But in spite of this, that word, for some reason, touches such a deep nerve within those hostile to Christianity that they must do more than simply display a disagreement with a prevailing notion.  It’s not good enough being a-theistic, they must be anti-theistic.

And that, I find, is very interesting.  It implies that atheism is more than a lack of belief.  It can’t stay at that merely reasoned philosophical place.  It is at its core a most outward expression of the rebellion of the heart, and the antagonism of that rebellion must and will come out.

Don’t get me wrong, I love atheists! I do!  But it looks like Atheism is becoming the new radical fundamentalism of the urban United States.  Now I know how absurd all us Christians probably looked for the past 50+ years with all of our political activism, ad hominem attacks on dissenters, made-up “culture wars” to agitate our base, over-excessive vitriol against “opponents” of our system, a circling of the wagons to maintain a false sense of security for “us” and ease of insult towards “them”, and a childish fanatical assent to a few tired (fundamental) tenets with a few tired (apologetic) defenses made by a few tired (hyperbolic, caricatured) leaders that are already irrelevant.

I guess its Atheism’s turn to take the wheel.  Try not to mess up the country in the same ways we did.  Neither you guys nor us have history on our side when it comes to our particular systems reigning supreme.  Things just don’t seem to go well.  Have fun.

As far as my contribution to the discussion?  Here was the little definition I gave:

FAITH: trusting that another has accomplished on your behalf what you ought to have done but can’t.

Grace and peace.

and Faith.

[more artwork by Amy Roberts can be found here]