Faith walk = faith talk?

(Blog post written by Jim DeKorne, Vice President of School Services @ CSI)

Faith appears to be going mainstream. Politically, US presidential candidates have been publicly trumpeting their faith experiences (here and here and here), while in Canada, the upcoming Ontario elections are turning into a referendum on funding faith-based schools (see here and here) —and for a story that includes comments on that topic from a student at OACS and CSI-member Redeemer Christian School in Ottawa, click here.)

Of course, the cynic’s reply to this public touting of personal faith is that faith is simply a cheap ploy to win votes or buy elections.

And that’s what makes the most recent public foray into the topic of faith quite interesting. Mother Teresa has been regarded as an icon of long-suffering love for the poorest of the poor, and certainly a woman of great faith. However, a new book (Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light) reveals Mother Teresa’s own deep crisis of faith. According to her own correspondence, her doubt did not just surface occasionally, but was a constant companion throughout her entire ministry. (The review of the book in the August 23 Time magazine is worth reading. You can find it here.)

To Christopher Hitchens—society’s most vocal atheist du jour—these revelations only confirm that the whole business of faith itself is a fraud. He muses that her admitted mental and spiritual anguish “…is the inevitable result of a dogma that asks people to believe impossible things and then makes them feel abject and guilty when their innate reason rebels.” (You can find his complete statements here.)

But to a believer, doubt is simply the other side of the faith coin. In a world where God is not yet fully King for all to see, the experience of God’s silence is universally shared—by David (Ps 35:13ff et.al), by Jesus himself (Mt 27:46), and surely by you and me. Indeed, what is more instructive about the news of Mother Teresa—that she had deep struggles, or that she continued to minister in spite of those struggles?

Faith is believing what you can’t see (Heb 11:1), and then acting on what you believe (James 2:17-18).

We’ve started another year in our “faith-based” schools. What, exactly, is the nature of that faith? Or to put it another way, what is it that we believe but can’t yet see? Start with this: It is a faith that sees not just the external created world around us, but the Creator behind it; it is a faith big enough to see what our students might become in the Lord’s hands; it is a faith broad enough to encompass all students in our Christian community, and bold enough to trust God with our future.

And it is also a faith that can be modeled, celebrated, and nurtured in our schools. What doubts do your students have? Is your school a place where those questions can be expressed appropriately? Some schools need to become much freer with speaking about one’s walk with Christ, and a place where Scripture is routinely woven throughout discussions. Other schools need to eliminate their pious-sounding blather and simply get real.

The world is asking lots of questions about faith. What a privilege to live out and nurture that faith daily in the hallways and classrooms of our schools!

For further reading:
Douglas Wilson debated Christopher Hitchens online a few months ago around the topic “Is Christianity Good for the World?” You can find the text here. The ideas presented are quite accessible to upper level students, and you may find it instructive to wrap some research and dialogue around the debate.

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4 Comments

Filed under Biblical worldview, distinctively Christian

4 responses to “Faith walk = faith talk?

  1. Jeffrey Roon

    I agree with the first statements made in this article about faith being used as a ploy in the lives of public figures. I think that too many times today, society wants to see that the people who are leading them have something that they believe in; doesn’t matter what it is, just simply that they have faith in something/someone. I believe that faith is something that we must live out daily in our classrooms. I feel like too many times teachers do not give students opportunities or help them in their walks with Christ in order to build their faith stronger. Our classrooms should be a place where Christ is the center and it shouldn’t matter how we display that as long as we are doing it. We should help students to feel comfortable showing Christ in their lives however that may be. Teachers should be trustworthy enough encourage students to show their love for Christ and His love for them.

  2. Caitlin McCarthy

    I too agree with your opening statements about how all the sudden faith and religion have become something to flaunt. It is, however, important to know where a political candidate stands in their faith if they are possibly going to be running your country. I really like how you put the idea of faith as acting on what you believe–even though you can’t see it. Even if you were to be teaching in public schools your faith can still be modeled through you actions without having to say anything. I think that teachers play an important role in letting Christ’s light shine through them so that their students can see Him at work in their lives.

  3. Danielle Nelson

    This is a very touchy subject even in the Christian community. So many are confused about what is sinning and what isn’t when it comes to faith and doubt. It is even more difficult when you doubt and feel that you are all alone. It is an untouched subject in the Christian community as if it were some plague that can’t be remedied. I am not afraid to say it any more that I struggle with doubt. It is actually nice to know that someone as great as Mother Teresa had doubts and carried them throughout her life. However, the most inspiring thing is that she didn’t let it hinder her influence and the goal that she believed God had set before her. I think that is what made her such an amazing woman. She struggled like us all and yet instead of getting down and complaining she worked through it and made a difference in a world where no one seems to care for their neighbors any more. I applaud such amazing courage and strength that can only be described as Christ like. That is what we need to show our students. That though life is hard and though we may have internal struggles, it doesn’t mean that we can’t still make a difference. I am excited to work through my struggles and doubts and show my students that it is possible to press on when no hope is visible.

  4. Megan Casasanto

    Public leaders today might see religon as a demographic of voters that can be won. However, we still can trust that politicians will vote according to their religon’s laws to keep a positive public opinion. As far as people having struggles with their religon i do not believe this to be negative. It is good for us to ask questions so that we can have a better understanding of our faith. Through this hopefully we can become more dedicated to our faith and what its teachings are.

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