The danger of the current North American church is not heresy. Mind you, orthodoxy should always be guarded, since we've demonstrated that we can mess truth up in a variety of ways. None the less, clear teaching and communal discernment provide rails of the Spirit to keep us on track. Most in our pews identify and embrace the main themes of Christian truth. Our threat is not wrong doctrine but dead doctrine.
His call to the historic truth of Christianity is overshadowed by the shallow Christian experience of those who hold those truths. He wrote that in 1916. Has the situation improved since then?
The question is big, so let me narrow our focus. Consider faith - the affirmation, ability and action of trusting God with our lives. It is your faith which pleases God. Since it is the entrance and means of our Christian living, God is always out to grow faith. How is our faith nurtured? Our knee jerk answer is to educate faith. We throw Bible verses at it. We study Biblical examples like Moses, Esther and Peter. We craft water tight argument and apologetic to convince faith to grow. You've tried that or at least had it done to you in Church. Has it worked? We sit among congregations able to define and describe the dynamic of faith, perhaps even longing for deeper trust, but who feel puny and powerless in this critical area of growth. We have the affirmations and the God graced ability for faith, but we don't put it into action. It's our doctrine but not our experience.
Faith is like a muscle. It grows by being exercised. Nutritional charts will not strengthen my core. Sit ups will. It you want your faith to grow - use it. Obey the Voice of God even if it makes no sense to you. Step into the unknown because God invites you there. Don't allow safety, comfort or common sense to be your loudest voice. I know you just raised your eyebrow. You want to correct the previous statement. But, Proverbs 3:5,6 reminds us that following God by faith does not fit into the normal boxes of life. Obedient faith will not always make sense to us and there may be every reasoned argument against it - except this. Faith without works is dead. Knowing without doing is lifeless. Spiritual growth is less like a classroom and more like a gymnasium.
The Psalmist at the head of this piece indicates that trusting God follows knowing God. When we begin to know God in a relational manner (not just by reading about Him) our capacity to throw ourselves into His care is enlarged. The experience of knowing leads to the act of trusting. Why? Because in the experience of knowing God we find His consistency and grace. God will never forsake us. The eternal issue is not the strength of our faith. It is the goodness and grace of God. There is a type of Christian who knows God can be trusted because the Bible says so. (True enough!) There is another type of Christian who knows God is trustworthy because they have trusted Him - and God has never failed. Which do you want to be?