Thursday, May 16, 2013

Is modern evangelical Christianity "pistic"?

I am more and more coming to the conclusion that modern evangelicalism is actually a "pistic" religion. I may even have coined this phrase by writing it down in this article. Whereas gnosticism is a system of revealed knowledge of God, pisticism (based on the Greek word "pistis" meaning faith) is a a system of revealed levels of faith in God.

Here is how a hypothetical pistic religion would work:
  • The initial faith requirement would be quite low and within the bounds of intellectual reason. 
  • Once the initiate had accepted this basic position a process of development would be carried out (we might want to call it "discipling" in a Christian setting) where they are exposed to more complex ideas about God which require greater levels of faith to accept.
  • If the initiate is wavering about accepting this they can be told that the true path is narrow and difficult.
  • Using imagery like this enhances the hierarchical approach to the different levels of faith which can be acquired.

There is some evidence of this "pisticism" when you look at modern evangelistic techniques and the practices of evangelical churches. Rather than a case of "one lord, one faith, one baptism" people seems to get hooked in at a low level where faith can seem very reasonable indeed. Over time the demands for greater faith increase and the leaps taken get greater and greater. For example, faith healing, creationism or dispensationalism may be added into what the person is expected to agree to.

Modern evangelicalism is certainly very complex.

While we are talking about leaps of  faith here is the Order of the Leaping Berylians:








2 comments:

  1. So true. This is exactly how they do it. If they started out by asking the faithful to believe six impossible things before breakfast, they'd never recruit anyone. Pistic is a great word, though people of cruder and less Grecian mind could be forgiven for mishearing it as "piss take". The benefits of a classical education are not to be underestimated. :-)

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  2. Further evidence to support my theory is that it is quite common for Christians to be told that the size of reward they get in heaven will be related to the amount of faith they have exercised on earth. "In my father's house there are many mansions" etc.

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