Practicality vs. Belief

"In my religion, there would be no exclusive doctrine; all would be love, poetry, and doubt" by Cyril Connolly

Elaine Pagels was interviewed about her new book Why Religion? I noticed this statement: “I focus on practice rather than belief.”

Reminded me of similar quotes. Marcus Borg said, “I grew up in a tradition which stressed correct belief, and I now see it’s not about correct belief at all.”

(Borg also said, “I let go of the notion that the Bible is a divine product.”)

In my post “Dogma Double-Talk” I mention a New Age high priestess who said that she “doesn’t like dogma.” Whether you define dogma as Webster’s first meaning (an established opinion) or the second (a doctrine), I found it odd that this anti-dogma priestess had created a school and could take us through a three-year course!

And now among the general Christian population, I’m often hearing the idea of practicality/practice vs. belief/doctrine/dogma. I hear it in the church halls. And being in the world of Christian publishing, I hear marketing strategies that imply that since people want what’s practical, materials maybe shouldn’t include too much doctrine.

Doctrine, dogma, teaching, beliefs…Whatever you want to call it, statements all over the place give us the idea that practicality is a nonrelated (and superior) thing. We need to think this through. Whether we’re choosing a medicine, buying a sweater, considering tax evasion, repairing the car, or unfriending someone, isn’t our decision about what to do (what would be practical) based on what we’ve learned/researched/discovered/studied about that? Some form of “teaching” is precisely what informs our behavior.

It appears we’re being steered us away from Scripture with the notion that Scripture (doctrine/belief) gets in the way of real life (practicality). That the Lord’s Word is irrelevant and unhelpful to his creatures. Well, you know what they say: Some people will believe anything.


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