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Return to 4th Quarter 2021 articles.

The title of this article is 'Faith and Methods in Science, Polotics, and the Church,' with a picture of snow-bound trees in a park at sunset.

The cover of our 4th quarter 2021 journal shows a picture of snow-bound trees in a park at sunset.

The secular world tends to think of faith as a blind religious belief, but faith is never blind. People always have a basis for what they believe. That is true whether we speak of a scientific faith, a political faith, or a religious faith.

The faith chapter in the Bible is Hebrews 11. You will notice that all of the examples given in that chapter are men and women who had received a basis of their faith. God gave promises to Abraham, and he got into trouble only when he doubted those promises. Moses received early training as a Hebrew, and he rejected the pleasures of Egypt and became a leader of Israel based on what he learned as a child. Noah operated on instructions directly from God. Rahab had seen what happened to those who opposed God's people. None of these were blind or devoid of evidence.

Young chemistry students having a good time in a sterile laboratory environment

Science is hugely dependent on faith. The difference between scientific and religious faith is that scientific faith is constantly changing. That is because scientists find new evidence that modifies what they believe to be true. When I started teaching chemistry, the faith of the scientific community said that matter is composed of three subatomic particles — electrons, protons, and neutrons. Science told us that those three particles were the smallest units of matter that could exist in a stable arrangement — and that those particles were stable. The newest scientific data suggests that even those particles eventually decay. Now we know that quantum particles produce electric charge and that all matter eventually returns to the energy from which it came. We used to teach that electrons orbit the atomic nucleus in ellipses, but now we know that electrons in some materials orbit in dumbbell-shaped orbits and others in clover-leaf types of orbits. Our faith in what matter is made of and how it produces the properties that we observe is constantly changing.

Composition of electron orbits and fractal pattern on the subject of science and technology

Faith is not and cannot be a static, unchanging thing. We have faith in the fundamental laws of science. For example, we scientifically trust that gravity can never fail, but scientists once believed that the law of parity was 100% universally true. Recently, they have found exceptions to the law. One of the things that makes quantum mechanics difficult is that it is easy to understand but very hard to believe because it challenges our scientific faith. A century ago, many did not accept Einstein's postulates because they violated everyday experiences and fundamental Newtonian beliefs.

Immigration law book and gavel on wooden table

As scientific faith is constantly changing because of new evidence, political faith has also changed. One of the problems facing politicians in the last twenty-five years has been changing social issues. As a result, political parties have been challenged to address those new issues. They include: the definition of marriage, the role of women, the role of police, the use of natural resources, how to deal with immigration, the way to overcome racial prejudice, how to handle medical costs, pollution, drugs, marijuana, and many others. Social changes force politicians to realize that what worked in the past must change to allow us to face the future.

When it comes to religious faith, we are not talking about changes in the fundamentals. The basic facts of Jesus as the Son of God, the Bible as God's Word, and the church's role in sharing that faith are not open to change. How we share our faith does need to change. The construction of massive religious structures to supply us with recreation and entertainment cannot continue when people around us do not have enough to eat. We cannot expect to hire one man to do the work that the church should be doing. Expecting the hired preacher to do it all takes away some of the most rewarding things individual Christians can do. Bringing food to starving people, giving shelter to a person living on the street, providing clothing to someone who is cold, or getting medical help to someone who is sick, are rewarding things we can all do. How we care for abused women, how we handle the victims of divorce, and what we expect the elders of the church to do must change. No longer can we consider church elders to be business managers. Instead, they need to serve as shepherds, returning to the model we see in the Bible.

Homeless people are helped with food relief

The church has to use the tools of our time to accomplish our acts of faith. People in nursing homes, hospitals, or homebound can now join us in worship using the Internet. We can distribute food and basic household needs like soap and cleaning supplies by tapping into organizations like Feeding America which collects and distributes those supplies at a reduced price. Congregations can employ specialists as a tool to supply the needs of those we serve. This may even involve hiring an electrician, auto mechanic, or counselor to help others beyond what individuals in the local congregation can do.

Some people are disturbed by this change in how we do things because we have done things a certain way for many years. As a result, some people find it hard to accept that there is a better way to express our faith using modern tools.

When thousands of people immigrated to the United States 150 years ago, the church took them in and addressed their needs until they could become self-sufficient. The volume of immigrants continued to grow until some were not being served. That led to a government welfare system taking over benevolence. The welfare system is often abused and incredibly wasteful. Churches became satisfied with entertaining themselves while neglecting service to others. How the Lord looks at this is described in Matthew 25:31-46.

Let us hold on to our biblical faith and increase what we do by using all that God has given us. In the twenty-first-century, twentieth-century methods are insufficient to preach the gospel to all creation (Mark 16:15).

— John N. Clayton

Picture credits:
Cover:© Serp. Image from BigStockPhoto.com
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Scripture links/references are from BibleGateway.com. Unhighlighted scriptures can be looked up at their website.