Preaching To the Choir

“Why is the “e” word (evangelism) so hard? How can the Christian faith be something you keep to yourself … or keep for yourself?” – Tweeted by @lensweet 3/16/11

“What we want is not more books about Christianity, but more books by Christians on other subjects.” – C.S. Lewis

File:Faith Reason Seitz Galleria dei Candelabri.jpg
"Faith and Reason United," Ludwig Seitz (1844–1908), via wiki commons

Sometimes I wonder if what I’m doing here, on this blog, is what I’m supposed to be doing.

I do a lot of religious writing. You might not know it, based on the topics covered here, but basically that’s what I do. It’s refreshing to write about the things I believe without feeling like I have to justify—or worse, explain—them. On the other hand, when I do religious writing, I’m essentially preaching to the choir.

Now, being a church choir director, I’m fully aware that choirs need just as much preaching as everyone else. Still, I wonder if I’m using my gift of gab in the way God really wants me to. Am I supposed to use this blog, for instance, as a platform to talk matters of faith more overtly?

The trouble is that I really don’t think people would read it. (Except for the proverbial choir.) If you start talking faith outside of a church, people hunch their shoulders and back away. That sounds terrible, but I don’t think it really is. Here’s the thing. Talking about matters of faith doesn’t really do anything. But when you act, people notice. This is why I think it’s so shortsighted to fixate on the idea that faith alone saves. Faith is expressed in the body, by what we do—in works.

 “Faith without works is like a song you can’t sing.
It’s about as useless as a screen door on a submarine.”
Rich Mullins

I always try to speak from the standpoint of reason, because I think faith unguided by reason gets corrupted too easily. Reason can also corrupt faith, but I think it’s less likely. Those who shy away from religion often do so because they think faith stands opposed to reason—a viewpoint, I’m sorry to say, that people who profess to be Christian often reinforce. But it’s not true.

Two quick examples.

1. The Israelites were told to circumcise as a visible sign of their belonging to the people of God. But it turns out that circumcision helped, in less sanitary times at least, to reduce disease and infection. There was a practical reason/benefit behind an ancient religious teaching.

2.  For a more modern example: people fume at the Catholic Church for holding the line on birth control and insisting only on natural family planning. But if you look objectively at the world, you see that the benefit of unlimited, supposedly consequence-free sex comes at a high price: hormones in the water supply causing who knows what effects on total fertility, and strokes, to name a couple. Not to mention, since contraception became widely available, the divorce rate has skyrocketed (Janet Smith addresses this issue here, beginning at the bottom of page 6). To me, it seems clear that even though the teaching is religious, it’s based on an entirely practical, reasonable view of the world.

Reason, formed by faith. Faith, founded on reason.

I don’t fill my corner of the e-universe with religious platitudes because I’d like to think that if I live my whole life by faith, it will come through in what I write. And isn’t that, ultimately, what’s most likely to make someone sit up and take notice?