In a recent conversation on someone’s blog, which was very pleasant and congenial, the following comment came up:
Personally, I would stress that what we claim to believe (concerning the resurrection, to what extent one believes the Bible is literal, et al.) means nothing if our actions do not harmonize with them.
This has come up several times in some recent conversations, so I thought I would repost the following response here on the blog:
I will quibble with one thing, it is one of my little soapboxes, so thanks for humoring me. I would dispute that what we believe means nothing if our actions do not harmonize with them. I think the first thing, the foundation, the root of the vine, is to get what you believe straight. Better thinking leads to better action.
I’m a programmer by trade. I can tell when I am looking at a system where they had a ‘roll up your sleeves and code’ approach, vs. a well thought out architecture and naming conventions and such. The well thought out system produces cleaner, leaner, more functional code, and less of it.
I would say that we can and should do a great deal of thinking, and it is often going to be leaden and dead if it must always lead to the pragmatic. Wonder and worship and questions and doubt and dialog and conversation often lead to subtle places which in the whole have profound influence over my actions. If I do street ministry because I feel compelled by Jesus’ story about the sheep and the goats, I go with this fiery weirdness that treats street people as objects to be ‘ministered to.’ On the other hand, if I go deeper, that I am at liberty to do as I wish, and begin to view people as the beloved pearl of a merchant, whose value is hidden but great, I go to them in a very different spirit. The thinking, not the action, is all important.
I think it is important that we cast off merely pragmatist faith. There is a much greater wonder to life, and this is the doorway to a praxis born of love.