Luke 8: 4-15 Fuming All Over!
When a large crowd gathered, with people from one town after another journeying to Jesus, he spoke in a parable. “A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path and was trampled, and the birds of the sky ate it up…And some seed fell on good soil, and when it grew, it produced fruit a hundred-fold…”
There still exists some bitter arguing among Protestants and Catholics regarding Martin Luther’s theological “dogma” known as Sola fides (faith alone). But there is a new “dogma” out there which is far more dangerous and worse in scope and has failed to catch the attention of most Christian pastors and priests. It is a doctrine that is very seductive and can suck the life out of any Christian at any given moment. This dogma is spreading like wildfire and has become prevalent in nearly every single Christian denomination. It is the dogma I affectionately call: Affectus solum. That is, “Feelings alone”.
A person whose faith rests almost entirely on feelings is a faith that is dead, or soon to be dead. Like faith without works is dead, so to faith with just feelings is dead! People who have succumbed to this dogma (or deadly virus) tend towards hallucinations and say: “I am not religious. I am spiritual.”
There was a man who threw some seed on rocky ground, and when it grew, it withered for lack of moisture. Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew with it and choked it.
These poor seeds never had a chance to survive because they never had fertile ground to take root in. They died the moment they hit the rocky or bumpy or thorny ground. And just like a seed cannot survive without water and fertile ground; faith in God cannot survive without prayer and knowledge of God.
If Christ’s love for us was based solely on feelings, He would have thrown in the towel long before He ever picked up His Cross. If Christ’s love for His father was based solely on feelings, He would have thrown the Cup of Sacrifice smack in His father’s face!
Don’t we know that by now? Haven’t we had enough of the rollercoaster rides? Haven’t we had enough of feeling great about God one moment and then accusing Him of not caring the next? Haven’t we seen the sad results of wishy-washy sentimental love? It plays out all the time among our most fervent yet superficial converts. It plays out among our dearest charismatic friends and families. It plays out among our retreatants and Medjugorje pilgrims. It plays out among our dearest stars (Kristen Stewart comes to mind).
Does a bride merry her spouse out of feelings of love or out of a deep knowledge of her spouse? If it is out of feelings, then we know how long that will last; as long as a feeling lasts. Not long at all.
Why do we place so much of our trust, hope and love in feelings rather than in real and concrete faith?
The headline read: “From Bible-Belt Pastor to Atheist Leader”. I read the New York Times article with some interest. It appears as though there are a growing number of atheists coming out from under their Protestant robes. The man featured in the article is the former Reverend Jerry DeWitt. I took some notes while I read the incredibly long article dedicated to religion. What I found were few surprises. I added some of my own notes while I read.
DeWitt is a descendent of a long line of preachers on both sides of the family [Thank God for chastity!]. His grandfather established 16 churches by himself [Church making is considered an excellent franchise in the Bible-belt]. At the age of 17 he was “saved” [Uh oh, I thought it was ‘once saved, always saved] by Jimmy Swaggart [That might explains it!]. Weeks later he was speaking in tongues [Now wait a minute…it would be interesting if he claims that was real and it would be revealing if he claims it was a hoax. If it was real, then how could he be an atheist today?].
One day, while sitting in church, he heard his pastor call on him to deliver a homily [I should try that one day, but this sounds as real as a ‘reality’ show]. He says he spoke and the “crowd” loved it! [Yep! Sounds fake to me]. He said, “I knew right then that preaching was what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.” [Wow! One sermon and he found his vocation. That’s an easy way of convincing someone they can be a motivational speaker. But chastity, poverty and obedience are the ways to find out if someone is being authentically called by God! After all, where does one find their cross to carry? Among your fan club? Within the crowd worshipping you?].
DeWitt preached across the South, although he never received a college degree [What???]. In 2004, he became a full-time pastor at a church near DeRitter [Are you kidding me?].
After reading this nine-page article, I was no longer interested in knowing why DeWitt became an atheist. Rather, I was much more interested in knowing how he survived being a Christian pastor for so long. After all, it sounds like everything he did; he did it on his own! Maybe he did it more for himself than for anyone else.
A Pastor who runs on feelings for so long will eventually end up fuming mad! And that’s exactly what happened.
But how can someone, who never went to college and never got a degree (which really means he never received a deep appreciation for the faith of our fathers or a systematic understanding of Christianity). What did he spend half his life giving to others? No wonder why a good hearted and sentimental man now claims to be a recovering Christian.
May our faith in you, O Lord, take root in our hearts, minds and bodies, so that the knowledge of your Son, and not our own desires, may always prevail in us. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.