The fallacy of “believing in our belief” as noted by Oswald Chambers is a critical dimension of faith for until this insight sinks in we will inevitably be subscribing to an enculturated belief system. And the enculturation is the necessary start to our social life as it equips us to take our place in the community and participate in it meaningfully, including in religion. Faith in this culture will mean subscribing to a creed, a doctrinal system which is taken to be revealed truth without any consideration for the possibility that this creed and doctrinal system are only a means to the “revealed truth” that all hearts yearn for. But when the words are taken as an end in themselves, not as mere “pointers” then we have subscribed to the “letter of the law” though our enculturation will often keep us from this awareness as culture wants to keep us on the surface of things. Anyone who gets beneath the surface, into the “spirit” of things, is dangerous for the status quo.
I have described this “surface” religion as “canned” faith, like something you can buy down at Wal Mart and open at your convenience when you get home. You leave the church feeling good about yourself in the sense of having your prejudices, biases, and premises confirmed and resume your complacent “Christian” life. Of course, in some churches, this “feeling good about yourself” might take the form of having your “hide ripped” by a hell-fire and damnation sermon but if that is what you are accustomed to then it too will confirm your pre-conceptions about yourself and the world. The status quo will go unchallenged.
I am describing a scene here in which “the salt has lost its savor.” Spiritual truth of great value will then be like “sounding brass and tinkling cymbal” because it is part of a rote performance, bouncing around in our heads, without never reaching down into the “foul rag and bone shop of our hearts” where “the thoughts and intents of the heart” are to be found. This is a very challenging notion to consider for often it will mean we have to face painful disillusionment, the recognition that though our faith is valid as far as “fire insurance” is concerned it has been very superficial and not been allowed integration into the depths of our heart which is what the Source of all spiritual truth has in mind.