Farewell to experience-oriented faith

Mark Galli says it’s the end of Christianity as we know it.

And, says he, good riddance.

Here’s part of his post:

The Christian faith is, at its core, not about ethics or religious experience, but a message about a God who has gone to extraordinary lengths to be and remain on our side, to become the-God-with-a-name, Emmanuel, “God with us.” Christians are not primarily mystics (those who experience God in a special way) or activists (those who live the way of Jesus).

We are mostly witnesses of who God is and what he has done and what he will do in Jesus Christ, the God who in Christ has “a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth” (Eph. 1:10).

This is not to deny that our faith must be expressed in deeds and empowered by a genuine experience of God. Faith without works, or a genuine encounter with God, is not Christian faith.

But after promising the disciples that they would receive the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus told them what their main mission was: “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

We are shortchanging our people when we make worship mostly about experience or a pep rally to motivate people to good deeds. We practice religious neglect when we fail to witness to them the saving story of God in Christ and train them to be fellow witnesses of that story, so that they might share that story with a world that does not know its left hand from its right. A world which does not know God as Emmanuel, but merely as “Something.” A world that knows transcendence but does not have eyes to see God with us even to the end of the age. A world that senses “attunement with other people,” but does not recognize the One who holds everyone and everything together by his love.

Mark Galli, The End of Christianity as We Know It, CT April 2010

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