The other day, I wrote about faith. "Without faith it is impossible to please God", and "whatever is not of faith is sin". But, James says, that "faith without works is dead". Luther called this the "straw gospel", as he understood the "just to live by faith". That is because he believed that Christ's substitutionary death and our belief in it "justified us" before God.
If one does not believe that the Atonement of Christ clears one of sin, as in substituionary death, and that we are accountable for our actions, and yet, we still believe that there is a "judgement seat" to be faced, then, we must believe that our lives must be "faithful"...faithfulness to the Church and to what the Church's leaders would desire our lives to express. This is similar to what Luther stood against in penance, as he had no clear conscience toward God and he saw many abuses of power within the Church that brought into his focus the discrepancies of "holiness".
Conscience is a universal according to Lewis (perhaps he would not label it as conscience). But, conscience is the ability to innately know right from wrong. Self awareness is a necessary development, so that one recognizes what the boundaries of "right behavior" is... This is what Western civilized cultures would term civility. Animals behave instinctually and since we develop our understanding through cultural conditioning and education. There is a need for behavior to be understood within a cultural framework before one can judge it. Punitive parenting can produce low self-esteem and negativity toward life, in general. Positive parenting helps the child to develop socially, so that they are not overly self=conscious and can be independent thinkers, while acting respectfully toward another. These are boundary markers, which begin with the rules that are taught in the home.
Spiritual formation is nothing really other than character development in self-reflection and it is similar to the Eastern practice of meditation. Accountability for one's actions, and thoughts is character formation which is caught as much as taught. Mentoring is necessary for the young for guidance. Some believe that self-reflection and its insights are given through the Holy Spirit, but I believe that any reflective person can grow in this way...
So, what is faith about? It is about how one views life and all its variables and answering the questions of "why"....So, faith is not about works, but about perspective....an honest agnostic understands that there are many ways of answering those questions...
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