In my four years at APU the phrase, “we have to make our faith our own, and not just ‘our parents’s faith,'” has been spoken countless times. I have always tended to agree with it. We need to understand and come to terms with Jesus and the salvation he offers us on our own accord and not just have it constantly spoon fed to us from our parents, and in that respect, yes, we must make it our own, something that we accept as true in our lives.
But today I’m reading Hauerwas’ After Christendom? and it has challenged me to think otherwise. I’ve leaned toward a social aspect of the Gospel in college. I find that we in modern Christianity have foregone the concept of community, at least what it looked like for the early church. I think if we were to attempt to revert to that, we would find ourselves truly enriched by those around us. The individualism in American society has seeped into our Chrsitianity and isn’t doing us any good.
So Hauerwas made the argument that faith is something that is learned from a master. This was the need for apprenticeship and discipleship. Remember that word? Disciple? Jesus had 12 of them. That isn’t a word given just to those people who followed Jesus, but that is the word used to describe a person learning intricately the ways of a master. That is what it is to follow Jesus, to want to learn his trade so intricately that we ourselves may become masters in order to share our trade with the next generation. In that way, should our faith not also be our parents’ faith. Yes, some people come to Christianity without the lead of their parents, but the statement about our parents’ faith is more directed for those of us who grew up in Christian homes.
Our parents raised us and taught us the ways of Christianity, many of us will even acknowledge that we don’t remember a huge coming to faith moment, except maybe a prayer when we were 4. So if we were their “disciples” all fo our lives, should our faith not reflect theirs? Maybe you think that your parents’ faith is shallow, conservative, whatever, but in all reality, they’ve been doing this a lot longer than you have.
Hauerwas’ argument was brough out of the fact that the church no longer is capable of being a disciplined body because of the way American Christianity has been formed. And that Chrsitianity is indeed supposed to be something that you cannot come into and just do, it requires training. There were 3 years of catechumen training before baptism in the early church. I think we often forget that we really do need this training in order to actually live Christian lives. Coming to church on a Sunday, and then not having any more investment than a title you give yourself as “Christian” is not what being a disciple is.
Hauerwas uses the analogy of laying a brick. In order to lay a brick you have to know all of the jargon. You have to know all of the tools. By coming under the work of a master you learn the history and are written into it yourself. You begin to learn the different intracacies of the trade. You learn the tricks. You learn the ways people work. You have to learn differet skills about the different tools and processes. All of that just to learn how to lay a brick. You need training. To learn how to lay a brick, you must also practice. Sure, you can lay a brick and be completely inexperienced, but would you call yourself a brick layer? No. Is this not the same for Christianity?