BRASWELL: Being or doing

A recent article by a fellow pastor about the phenomenon of believers rethinking their faith and a deconstruction of their belief taking place caused me to reflect.

I have witnessed this myself among other believers and even some ministers. When I read his article, it reminded me of an experience while I was on a sabbatical at my alma mater-seminary a few years ago.

I always look forward to new developments, books, and a time of intense research on some favorite topics.

I always go to the bookstore to go through the new text books for the seminary studies. This particular year there was a raging debate going on theologically. A large display was placed in the library and the bookstore. It really troubled me. It was a debate, complete with competing authors and their books on the nature of the righteousness of believers.

One position was called “Contractual Righteousness,” a business deal basically of performed action and obedience based on a “Contract” with God — we are obedient, He gives us righteousness. The other position was labeled “Forensic Righteousness,” a righteousness based on an experience with a person “Christ” and transformed character spiritually.

I was troubled that scholars would divide the faith and obedience model. As I pondered and read both sides, I am not surprised to discover that some believers have a “Contract” with God and if they believe God has violated that contract they simply don’t believe any more. My experience and interpretation of the Bible teaches me that my relationship and experience with God includes difficulty, trouble, things not going my way, and times of doubting. My experience with the person of Jesus Christ transcends “normal life” experiences and He always delivers me and loves me.