The phrase "faith and practice" has historically been used by various Christian (and even some non-Christian) groups to delineate the doctrinal distinctives of their particular denomination or association. On the one hand, it is a broad phrase, encompassing all areas of both belief and behavior, doctrine and duty...Source (emphasis in original)
Genuine faith always impacts real life; and, conversely, deeds and decisions can always be traced back to an underlying system of belief. Even from a purely secular perspective, "beliefs, together with other mental states (desires, fears, and intentions), function as reasons for action" (Honderich, Oxford Companion to Philosophy, 82).
From a biblical point of view, faith and practice are so intertwined that—at times—they are almost synonymous. In the Scriptures, to believe is to obey. As Christ said in John 3:36: "He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him."
Thus we chose the name "faith and practice" because it encompasses all areas of theology, from the systematic to the practical; and also because it serves as a vivid reminder to all of us that true Christianity does not consist of mere theory, but of wholehearted obedience to the truth (cf. John 14:15).
Though somewhat tangential, it should also be noted that, in the last century, an effort has been made on the part of some so-called evangelicals to use the phrase "faith and practice" as a bibliological cop-out—a way in which they think they can affirm the infallibility of Scripture without actually accepting the Bible as completely true. Thus, the claim is made that God’s Word is infallible in areas of "faith and practice" but not in areas of "science, history, and the like."
At least two things are particularly disturbing about such a claim. First, it implies that secular science and history provide a greater source of authority for the Christian (regarding what is factually true) than the Bible. (For instance, since science has supposedly "proven" that Darwinian evolution is factual, then fiat creationism must not be true, despite the fact that it comes from the straightforward reading of Genesis 1–2). Second, this claim essentially says that, in areas where the Bible can be tested by the scientific method, it cannot be trusted...
If the Bible cannot be trusted in every area, it cannot be trusted at all.
We, of course, affirm the total infallibility and inerrancy of the Scriptures as delineated in the Chicago Statement on Inerrancy. And we further decry the use of the phrase "faith and practice" as an incognito attempt to undermine an orthodox (and God-exalting) bibliology. We would much prefer to stand with A. A. Hodge who, in his 1860 article entitled “The Rule of Faith and Practice,” states:
The Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, Having Been Given By Inspiration of God, Are the All-Sufficient and Only Rule of Faith and Practice, and Judge of Controversies. . . . What is meant by saying that the Scriptures are the only infallible rule of faith and practice? Whatever God teaches or commands is of sovereign authority. Whatever conveys to us an infallible knowledge of his teachings and commands is an infallible rule. The Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the only organs through which, during the present dispensation, God conveys to us a knowledge of his will about what we are to believe concerning himself, and what duties he requires of us. (From Outlines of Theology, chapter 5)
Our primary objective, then, is to glorify God by being faithful to His Word. To that end, we are preparing articles for our launch on January 1. Lord willing, we'll see you then!
Thursday, November 24, 2005
Faith and Practice
I was clicking around various blogs yesterday and discovered a blog entitled Faith & Practice that will be kicking off after the New Year. Anyway, there is one major post explaining their general beliefs concerning faith and practice, and I thought I'd share a bit of it with you.