Saturday, August 30, 2008

"Favorite Song Theology" Is Faith A Matter Of Fact Or A Matter Of Feelings?

How do you decide what you will believe?

I clipped an article written several years ago by Tim Stafford. In it, he tells about a friend of his, a minister, Stephen Belynskyj, who holds a Ph.D. in philosophy from Notre Dame. He starts each of his confirmation classes with this illustration. He brings out a large jar full of marbles and then he asks each of his students to guess how many marbles are in the jar. Then he asks them to name their favorite songs.

After all the guesses are in, he reveals the actual number of marbles in the jar. The whole class looks over their guesses to see whose estimate was closest to being right.

Belynskyj then turns to the list of their favorite songs. “And which one of these is closest to being right?” he asks. The students protest that there is no right answer, a person's favorite song is purely a matter of taste.

Belynskyj, asks, 'When you decide what to believe in terms of your faith, is that more like guessing the number of beans or more like choosing your favorite song?” Always, Belynskyj says, from old as well as young, he gets the same answer. “Choosing one's faith is more like choosing a favorite song.”

Tim Stafford says, “when Belynskyj told me this, it took my breath away.” “After they say that, do you confirm them?” he asked him.

“Well,” said Belynskyj, “first I try to argue them out of it.”

Tim Stafford calls this mentality "favorite-song theology," the notion that one's faith is a matter of taste more than fact.

Real biblical faith, the complete body of truth that Jude calls, “THE FAITH” is not determined by our tastes, or preferences, or our feelings. It is a matter of fact and is as precise as knowing the exact number of marbles in the jar.


Anonymous said...

Great post.

It would seem American evangelicals use the "favorite song theology" method more often than not.

And what bad taste in music!

Daisy said...

Wow! Great picture.

I agree about the bad taste in music, Stan.