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Living it out

"Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds." James 2.18

The philosopher in James understood that faith must show evidence to be genuine. Anyone can profess anything they like without it actually being true. Only when its impact can be observed in a person's conduct can it be claimed to be authentic, for faith is what moves us at the deepest level: what we believe or do not believe about life and how we relate to our fellow creatures and whether and what we believe in a Creator.

The theologian's job is to interpret and modify the beliefs which find expression in our faith. In that sense their job is both descriptive and revisionary. That is not to say that theologians should aspire to instruct what we believe: as academic thought-police. But they check what we profess to believe against what we actually say and do, holding a mirror up to expose any inconsistencies. For instance, if I claim to follow Jesus but fail to live by his example and instruction; or if I maintain that God is utterly transcendent and then expect Him to be moved by my prayers.

There are indeed some glaring inconsistencies, even in some of the hallowed confessions we recite in church - which is why we need to distinguish between Scripture, which is eternal and trustworthy, and human formulations, which are precious but not infallible. It also explains why theology is dynamic as well as reflective. And it embraces us all. We may not consider ourselves to be "academic" but most of us like to think that there is consistency between our faith, our beliefs and how we express these in our lives: the "theology" we live by...



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