Monday, October 29, 2012

A Conversation with a 19.6 Percenter

 Now and then my members send me emails about things they've read. I've gotten more emails about the recent Pew Research Survey than any other.  This survey showed that in the last five years the number of Americans who claim not to be affiliated with any religion has increased from 15 to 19.6% of the population.  Two thirds of these 19.6 Percenters do believe in God, and they believe that the church does a lot of good.  But they themselves are not committed to any creed or congregation.  

     On Reformation Sunday, October 28, 2012 I addressed this situation and began my sermon with an imaginary conversation with a 19.6 Percenter:

… I’m not affiliated with any religion, but I am spiritual.  I don’t have a creed, but I do believe.  I’m not part of any congregation, but I have nothing against churches.

> Do you really think this is the way God wants everyone to live their life? 
…How do you know what God wants me to do or not to do? 
Because it says so right here in the Bible:

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.  24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works,  25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

 God wants us to have a confession of faith and be part of a congregation. 

…Hmm.  Well maybe I just don’t believe everything that’s written in the Bible.  After all, the Bible isn’t perfect.  It was written by imperfect men. 

> So how do you know which parts of the Bible are Gods word and which parts are just man’s word?

… The parts that I feel are God’s word are God’s word. 

> So then faith basically comes down to your feelings? 

… Yes, I guess that’s the way I feel about it.

> But what if your feelings aren’t perfect?  Isn’t that a dangerous thing upon which to rely for your salvation? 

… I feel pretty good about my feelings. 

> Do you really think that your feelings are more perfect that Bible? 

… I really think the Bible is a good book.  I wouldn’t change a word of it. 

> But it’s not good enough to believe in completely?