Gibbs, Intro & Ch.1 “The Nominality Problem Defined & Described”

August 17, 2008

One thing that struck me while reading this introduction of the concept of nominality is how very much on target the description is for my context: the South. Christianity is a cultural norm, a general assumption–not a life-altering, life-giving, life-style. I have been in the past, and increasingly so since coming to seminary and walking my own journey through shifting paradigms, so frustrated with people (some dear friends of mine) who call themselves Christians yet do not own their own faith. They have not discovered Jesus for themselves but merely learned to parrot answers–and that’s if they even go to church. Gibbs writes that “beliefs must be clearly thought through in order to be promoted and defended in a societal context which increasingly regards religiously based beliefs as largely irrelevant” (31). That’s exactly it! One way to combat nominality is to give people the tools to think for themselves, decide for themselves what they believe and why. The South’s tendency toward conservatism (and sometimes fundamentalism) holds onto beliefs with a vice-like grip that restricts growth. How much better (and harder) is the offering of truth with an open hand?

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