Since I find religious faith so difficult, I found the following quote from Jonathan Malesic on religiondispatches.org interesting:
Going back to Christianity’s origins, Paul taught that it was . . . faith, not deeds, that made a Christian worthy of salvation. The Protestant Reformation and, later, the growth of Evangelical churches reiterated this emphasis on belief as the core of Christianity and the prerequisite to belonging to the church.
The teaching that Christianity is first of all about belief was intended to open church membership to any person. In a skeptical age, it may be the biggest impediment to greater Christian affiliation.
Younger Americans who have left Christianity are simply taking a longstanding Christian doctrine at its word. The churches told them they had to believe in order to belong. They don’t believe. So they left. In doing so, they may well have left a vacuum in their lives and communities. But in an important sense, they may also have taken Christian teaching too seriously.
As a youth in Sunday School in the LDS Church, I often heard the expression: “faith without works in dead.” For me, for Christianity to leave works or “deeds” out of the equation is ridiculous, and a serious misreading of the teachings of Christ.
Since faith has become a problem for the younger generations (and the older), they are leaving organized religion, a trend that has also affected the LDS Church.
Since the death of Apostle John A. Widtsoe in 1952, the LDS Church has tried an unsuccessful rapprochement with the evangelical movement. This has led to a de-emphasis of works and deeds. This evolution, has serious harmed the Church.
Malesic states that individuals leaving churches may develop “a vacuum in their lives and communities.” I don’t agree. There are any number of organizations which can provide socializaion activities and togetherness. But if the LDS Church were to put a greater emphasis on works and deeds, this would provide a mechanism for members to return, and in the process perhaps rekindle their ailing faith.
I suspect that there are many with ailing faith (like myself) who desire to do good works. The Church would be a wonderful venue for supporting and organizing global good deeds. Some argue that the LDS Church is already doing enough now. I would argue they are not. But that is for a separate post.