One final paragraph from The Predicament of Belief by Philip Clayton & Steven Knapp. And it is a paragraph relevant to what we will be doing at First Central in our First Forum the next four Sunday mornings at 9:15 a.m. in our class "Working Out Our Faith," which will explore the great topics of Christian belief and invite everyone to construct their own statement of faith.
This paragraph is an indictment and call to, largely, the liberal mainline church, though it increasingly impacts evangelicals as well:
When church leaders can no longer presuppose a securely shared fabric of beliefs, they rely increasingly on extrinsic motivations: professional musicians, high-tech services, attractive social programs, and the like. The trouble is that reflective persons recognize that such initiatives are no longer tied to compelling and persuasive beliefs about what is ultimately the case. When those beliefs become merely metaphorical or poetic--or worse, when one finds oneself using language one no longer believes but vaguely feels that one ought to believe--one begins to wonder about the raison d'etre of the entire institution and its practices. Is it surprising that many have the sense that (in John Cobb's words) "what we do and say does not seem to be terribly important."