‘Belief Disconnect’

Quote taken from OSS’ blog ‘How Shallow Are You Today?‘.

The Bible talks about the person and work of Christ and also about how widows should be regarded in the church. The first of those subjects is much more foundational. Without it the secondary teachings don’t make sense.” (Tim Keller)

I am not a fan of this 2 tier system he is developing here. It seems like, to me, he is trying to separate categories of importance along the lines of:

(a) Beliefs about Christ are very important (doctrinal statements)

(b) Teachings of Christ are not as important (straight from the gospels)

The problem for me is an old and beleaguered point concerning the term belief and its applicable definition. It seems the author believes the importance should be given to the beliefs a person holds (ie: God is 3 in 1) that really are not beliefs at all. My explanation again concerning biblical ‘belief’.

When the authors of the bible use the term ‘belief’ they seem to be addressing the a dual idea – thought and action. If I say I am going to ‘treat you like a king’ (belief/thought) and then treat you like a ‘beggar’ (action) – I do not actually believe what I think I believe – this is shown in my actions.

I think the author, is this Tim Keller?, is going down the path to ‘belief disconnect’ for his hearers. This is when we start seeing Christians becoming hypocrites – because they value doctrinal statements (holding correct ideologies) over and above their own actions towards other people (beliefs).

**This raised a big question for me concerning the idea of ‘belief disconnect’ – is it causing good Christian people to behave in ways that is inexcusable for someone under the tutolage of Jesus? It is allowing Christians to act in contradictory ways to the teachings – those are secondary after all – as long as they keep the correct set of beliefs concerning God (correct being whatever the denomination says is correct). I contend – Christianity is slowly beocming hypocritcal…maybe?

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24 thoughts on “‘Belief Disconnect’

  1. We only believe what we do………..the rest is just nice theory. Christianity is meant to be a religion of works in the name of Jesus. Instead we have turned it into a religion of theoretical knowledge that often does not affect how we live and treat other people.

  2. “We only believe what we do………..the rest is just nice theory” (Bruce)

    I agree – there is something you said to me years ago that resonates very strongly with me as ‘truth’. I believe it goes something like this:

    ‘You become what you believe about God’.

    It slightly ties in to this convo – because I think it is 100% true. The problem people in some of these churches are having is that they believe things that mean nothing – do nothing for behavior – and ask nothing of the person – yet are the core parts of their faith. Their beliefs about God are seperated from the actions of the person – this can allow for belief disconnect – someone professing something beautiful (ie: they love God) and yet committing actions that are quite the opposite (ie: cheating on their wife).

    I have seen the outcomes of this belief disconnect – so much so – some people say they believe in God not knowing what the hell they mean when they say it. I grew up in and believed ‘there was a God but lived contrary to the idea of a God of ‘all’.

  3. “The Bible talks about the person and work of Christ and also about how widows should be regarded in the church. The first of those subjects is much more foundational. Without it the secondary teachings don’t make sense.” (Tim Keller)

    How can there be anything wrong with this statement? If I go out and dedicate my time to feeding the homeless and they ask me, “Why do you do this?” I answer, “Oh, dunno, just seems like the right thing to do.”

    So the recipient sees no motivation and doesn’t see to change other than to expect a free meal at 4 pm daily. He is not led to an understanding that this blessing came to him because God motivated someone to help. Note: I’m not saying that we have to evangelize from the very beginning. You can gain someone’s trust..then tell them about God. And, if they’re receptive to the message, they can start taking steps away from what is keeping them down.

    The disconnect does not come from what Keller says. It’s because many people prefer to lend intellectual agreement to the idea of Christ without paying him much attention. But as one expert said on this subject – James – was that even demons believe. Agreement doesn’t give us much cover.

    When you say, “Christianity is slowing becoming hypocritical” you are mistaken because true Christianity cannot be hypocritical. So condemn the hypocrite, not the plumb line that proves the hypocrisy. Our attitudes should be that we expose hypocrites for who they are to help the church grow.

  4. Hi! I found your blog desperately trying to find people who were/are disgusted with “thetrumpetcallofgod” as I am. I’m Trent’s wife and my friend Buffy and I are so tired of living with this prophet crap that our husband’s are into & we are looking for support. I’ve been reading your old blogs and I know that this is old for you but it’s an everyday thing for us. Can you talk about what you know to us?

  5. “Our attitudes should be that we expose hypocrites for who they are to help the church grow.” Jim

    “Christianity is slowly beocming hypocritcal…maybe?” SVS

    I was thinking about this the other day. I do not believe the PEOPLE in the church are hypocrites. And if they are, then church is probably where they need to be, but it would be better that they got real help from counseling.

    The real hypocrite is the system or politics of church. The system that has one preaching telling his/her opinions to a mass audience and the system who deems this person some sort of spiritual advisor, or the person who knows what G-d wants to say to people. (We all hear the voice of G-d) This system that need people, not because their souls will be saved but it needs souls so that one person of authority has an audience, that the church gets it’s bills paid and that the church then can get the message out to more people. Keeping a building alive is not the gospel. Getting to be seen on TV is not the gospel. Warning people about the end of the world is not the gospel.
    The gospel is the good we do in the communities. If a mormon or evangelical or catholic came and helped me rake my leaves, I would be impressed. But no, they knock on my door, tell me that I am a sinner, I need G-d and that I am unhappy. They don’t care if I already know G-d because it’s not the right G-d if I do not go to there church, or read their special book.

    Evangelism unfortunately is about spouting doctrinal beliefs and promoting a useless system, it should be about being a helping force in the community.

  6. “Hi! I found your blog desperately trying to find people who were/are disgusted with “thetrumpetcallofgod” as I am. I’m Trent’s wife and my friend Buffy and I are so tired of living with this prophet crap that our husband’s are into & we are looking for support. I’ve been reading your old blogs and I know that this is old for you but it’s an everyday thing for us. Can you talk about what you know to us?” (Heather)

    Hi Heather, I have talked to Trent a few time at GraceHead – he is a well meaning person – I thought he was a good guy.

    I will do whatever I can – what do you suggest it is I do? If it’s answer questions – I will. If it is talk with the Gracehead peeps – I will. If it is just be someone you can talk to – I will. Let me know what it is I can do to help out in any way.

    Another group of people that have talked with the people from Gracehead and with the ‘prophet’ is a group of people called ‘Stupid Church People’ (link on my site) – they would be worth contacting also.

    Keep in touch – the community here will do what they can.

  7. I really appreciate your help and your support! I will show Buffy today what you said. She & I have a meeting with a Christian cult specialist today called Watchman fellowship so maybe he has some answers as well. Trent & Jim are in this deep and we don’t know how to live with this stuff. I will definitely go to Stupid Church site. Thanks again and I will talk to you about this over there!

    Heather

  8. “She & I have a meeting with a Christian cult specialist today called Watchman fellowship so maybe he has some answers as well” (Heather)

    Good move…I also believe your husbands are deep in the process of ‘control’ or brainwashed. Hopefully they can provide you with some of the answers you need at this time.

    “Trent & Jim are in this deep and we don’t know how to live with this stuff.” (Heather)

    I really do wish the best for the both of you – I hope to God that they can let go of their infatuation with Timothy’s supposed prophetic vision. It’s not really needed to be a Christian and that’s the part they seem to be forgetting. Anyways, i am open to talk on such issues anytime.

  9. A hypocrite is a person who says one thing and does another. We are ALL guilty of being hypocrites and the Bible is filled with illustrations of hypocrites. (Peter is a great example)

    The danger of “exposing” the hypocrites comes from the standard we use for such judgments. Usually it is our own standard, our own interpretation of the Scripture, our own subjective understanding colored by our life experience. When we are exposing the hypocrites who will then expose us? (and this is how easily we can become Pharisee’s)

    What we need are humble men/women who faithfully preach/teach/live the word of God. Let’s be clear about what God says……….but we are better off if we leave ferreting out the hypocrites to God.

  10. What we need are humble men/women who faithfully preach/teach/live the word of God. Let’s be clear about what God says(bruce)

    Really bruce, now can you point me in the direction of the person/s who have a direct connection to the Great almighty? I believe there are many out there who claim to, but Im not sure any of them are actually right. Wouldnt it be better to talk about the humble people who can tell us they have an idea on what may or may not make our lives better and not the ones who think they know what God has in mind for us.

  11. “We are ALL guilty of being hypocrites and the Bible is filled with illustrations of hypocrites. (Peter is a great example)” (Bruce)

    Hypocrisy is the act of saying one thing but actually doing another. I agree – we all are hypocrites at some point in time – because we are in a process of growth (from year to year). But most people will deal with their hypocrisy if they care about being respected at all (or considered someone of integrity).

    “The danger of “exposing” the hypocrites comes from the standard we use for such judgments. Usually it is our own standard, our own interpretation of the Scripture, our own subjective understanding colored by our life experience” (Bruce)

    This is too simplisitic a explanation in all reality. I think we have bring our own experiences to the scriptures – to not do that is tantamount to ignoring them altogether (since they ask of us certain things that can be lived).

    As for our understanding of scripture – there are certain lines that even interpretation has to fall into – namely reasonableness. If an interpretation is not reasonable – we have no reason to consider it as honest. It also has to line up with context of the passage, historical background considerations, mental stability of the person, interpretive method, etc.

    I won’t accept any old interpretation as holding credence because someone can make an interpretation…if so…then Koresh’s stuff would be held out as a possible interpretations with some merit (or even the KKK). I don’t feel that way – I feel he was actually crazy and what he interpreted will be colored with that craziness. I would also contend he had a methodology based around Revelations – which is starting off from a losing position already (we do not use this type of literary writing and have little knowledge concerning it).

    So even interpretation is subject to some criticism…although we may all form small varieites concerning the core of some scriptures – we can all admit we have to be in the same ball-park when interpreting a passage.

  12. Hippolytus of Rome wrote in his “Apostolic Traditions” who could become a Christian.

    “inquiry shall likewise be made about the professions and the trades of those brought to the faith.” (paraphrased by yours truly) If a man is a pander, he must stop. a sculptor or painter, they must not make idols. if an actor or pantomimist, teacher of young children, charioteer, gladiator or trainer of gladiators, a heathen priest, they must stop.

    Here’s the biggie: “A soldier of civil authority must be taught not to kill and refuse to do so if commanded, and refused to take an oath; if he is unwilling to comply, he must be rejected. If a catechumen or a believer seeks to become a soldier, they must be rejected, for they have despised God.”

    this is circa 217-222 CE. make of it what you will.

  13. When we are exposing the hypocrites who will then expose us? (and this is how easily we can become Pharisee’s)

    You only wish! First you’d have to study and find out what a Pharisee really was and what a Pharisee really taught. And then you’d have to continue studying Torah, speaking out against a corrupt priesthood and eventually risk your neck, literally, in order to pass on your traditions to another generation. Once you get past all that, you can then go on to try to survive the maniacal persecution of another religion which is hell bent on your destruction because they consider themselves to have taken over your covenant and that you are now some demonic entity.

    Once you have done all that, please, feel free to call yourself a Pharisee.

  14. Bruce– but we are better off if we leave ferreting out the hypocrites to God.

    Jim had said—Our attitudes should be that we expose hypocrites for who they are to help the church grow.

    Note I did not throw the hypocrites out, ’cause I’d be one of them. I said in an earlier thread that folks who leave the faith entirely are, in effect, pruning themselves out of the vine. There’s a difference there.

    Heather, that is a terrible trial you’re going through. The best thing is to pray for them every day and try to point out where this prophet’s message deviates from the Word. Usually apocalyptic cults tend to cross the line when they predict exactly when Christ will return. Jesus said that that is a sure sign that they are phony.

    Matthew 24:36—[Jesus] “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”

    Watchman looks like a good group. God bless.

  15. Yaelbatsarah,

    I used Pharisee in the sense it is commonly used in Evangelicalism…….A person who establishes his own law or standard by which to judge others. Such a Pharisee stands in direct contradiction to the grace of Jesus Christ.

    Sorry if I offended you in some way.

  16. Luke – I have to reply to Hippolytus’ definition of a Christian…some of it is just strange.

    “if an actor or pantomimist, teacher of young children, charioteer, gladiator or trainer of gladiators, a heathen priest, they must stop”

    How the hell can an actor and a teacher of children be comparable to gladiators? Hippolytus’s definition is a strange one here – his comparison is weird.

    “If a catechumen or a believer seeks to become a soldier, they must be rejected, for they have despised God”

    Can we get this posted all over the Christian world ASAP (lol). Might want to post this on COAS’ site also – I would like to see how they reply to something like this – if not only for a laugh and half.

    I can see what Hippolytus is saying with this warning though – it does prove to some degree that early Christianity was premierely a non-violent movement from it’s on-set (and the early scriptures were seen that way). There was no talks of a ‘just war’ with Hippolytus – he wasn’t having it based on his interpretation and local Christian community. Plus they were under Roman rule – why defend that empire?

    I think Christianity has lost this focus in our days – non-violence is slowly becoming a thing of the past – we have countries to defend these days. I side with Hippolytus on this issue no doubts.

  17. Bruce,
    I will accept your apology IF you meant you are sorry BECUASE your words were offensive, rather than that you’re sorry IF I was offended. 🙂

    …….A person who establishes his own law or standard by which to judge others. Such a Pharisee stands in direct contradiction to the grace of Jesus Christ.

    Can you please give some examples of Pharisees, by name, and their exact ‘own laws or standards by which they judged others’ with which you take issue? Please be specific with real people and their actualy teachings. If you need some help, please feel free to follow the link Jason has to Yael’s Pirke Avot so you can meet some of the people of whom you speak with such disdain.

    Is it all right to repeat a stereotype just because ‘everyone else is doing it’?. At one time it was acceptable to speak, in many circles including church, using stereotypes about racial minorities, women, homosexuals, the disabled, but surely most would agree such behavior is unacceptable today. Yet it continues to be acceptable to tear down the sages of another religion, in broad generalizations, just because this has always been done?

  18. Yael,

    Go into just about any fundamentalist Church and you’ll find Pharisee’s. I know……..I was trained as one, pastored as one.

    You and I are talking about two different things. You are talking about this from a Jewish perspective and I am talking about from an Evangelical Christian perspective. 2 ships passing in the night.

    As an Evangelical the Pharisees of the Bible were the outward keepers of the law………John the Baptist had much to say about the emptiness of such men. (and I have no desire to debate Phariseeism with you)

    No, I do not believe my words were offensive. That you found offense with them I am indeed sorry. And so I will not cause futher offense to you I will leave off this discussion with you.

  19. John,

    All followers of Christ have a connection with God via the Spirit of God. Faithful men and women teach what they have learned and been taught (through study and the other human beings)

    Every teaching is conditioned by our understanding, our worldview, our perceptions (real or otherwise)and experiences. No such thing as the “naked truth” because truth does not exist in a vacuum.

    While God’s truth is perfect truth………once it goes through human means it is an admixture of truth and error. So I am in no way suggesting there are human beings with an inside track with God.

    SocietyVs,

    I agree as long as we realize that the ballpark is pretty big:)

    It is one thing to say we believe in the atonement of Christ. All would agree that it is foundational to Christian faith. It is another thing to require as specific theory of atonement as orthodox requirement. The same could be said about various eschatological views. It is enough to say Jesus is coming again.

    God’s house is a big, big house……….with lots of room (if it were not so he would have told us)

  20. “How the hell can an actor and a teacher of children be comparable to gladiators?” SVS

    all were about furthering the message of the empire. back in those days Christians were very much against Rome (despite all those who say they can coexist, they cannot). so soldiers, actors, and anyone furthering the propaganda were suspect and must be avoided at all costs. gotta get that socio-historical context, it provides clues… sorry i didn’t provide those on the onset. you get it now? is Hippo clearer?

  21. “anyone furthering the propaganda were suspect and must be avoided at all costs. gotta get that socio-historical context, it provides clues…” (Luke)

    So if we were to take that contectual comparison to today – would being an actor in Hollywood or working for the media be reasons for not being considered Christian? I guess I find it weird that someone from the media could be compared to someone in a literal killing field. If Rome was compared to Nazi Germany then I’d agree with the ‘not being Christian’ thing – but Rome was not as bad as Nazi Germany (there was no ethic cleansing program).

    I think Hippo relates to all sin being equal – in both weight and severity – from murder to propoganda. That’s too bad – because I am not sure that is the point of all sin being equal. All sin is equal in that each incidence has the ability to hurt the person committing the sin – so it’s even in the sense that each sin is ‘same’ in that it is a ‘sin’ and can ‘hurt you’. As for severity, I would say there are marked differences between murder (for fun) and propoganda (which may be a job). Just my opinion as I think through this in my head.

  22. Hippo says nothing of sin… only of who can be admitted to Christianity and who can’t. if you’re furthering the empire, you’re out. if you’re furthering idol/pagan religions you’re out.

    you wouldn’t be able to join Christianity then if you’re in that new crappy satire An American Carol as it’s nationalistic. if you’re questioning government, you’re in. if you’re blindly following you’re out.

    interesting distinction between “murder (for fun) and propoganda (which may be a job).” as i didn’t see it that way. that provides some light on your argument, but what i view Hippo as doing is disqualifying all empire-related people as “you can’t serve two masters” in his mind. the stark absolutism that Hippo strikes is surprising to our current mindset, but it raises the question, can one be a loyal citizen and a Christian?

    when we invaded Iraq and people stood up and said “this is wrong” they were criticized for being un-patriotic and anti-American. how can we still be loyal yet speak truth to power? Hippo didn’t want to go down this path, in my mind if we followed this, we wouldn’t have to stop and ask ourselves this question.

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