A pastor I know, Stephey Belynskyj, starts each confirmation class with a jar full of
beans. He asks his students to guess how many beans are in the jar, and on a big pad of
paper writes down their estimates. Then, next to those estimates, he helps them make
another list: Their favorite songs. When the lists are complete, he reveals the actual
number of beans in the jar. The whole class looks over their guesses, to see which
estimate was closest to being right. Belynskyj then turns to the list of 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, who holds a Ph.D. in philosophy from Notre Dame 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.
When Belynskyj told me this, it took my breath away.
"After they say that, do you confirm them?" I asked him. "Well,"
smiled Belynskyj, "First I try to argue them out of it."
Christianity Today, September 14, 1992, p. 36.
Statistics and Stuff
We have gotten accustomed to the blurred puffs of gray fog that pass for doctrine in
churches and expect nothing better. From some previously unimpeachable sources are now
coming vague statements consisting of a milky admixture of Scripture, science, and human
sentiment that is true to none of its ingredients because each one works to cancel the
others out. Little by little Christians these days are being brainwashed. One evidence is
that increasing numbers of them are becoming ashamed to be found unequivocally on the side
of truth. They say they believe, but their beliefs have been so diluted as to be
impossible of clear definition. Moral power has always accompanied definite beliefs. Great
saints have always been dogmatic. We need a return to a gentle dogmatism that smiles while
it stands stubborn and firm on the Word of God that lives and abides forever.