(What) it means to be a Christian…what makes a Christian a Christian is holding certain beliefs that help us better understand human condition, to make sense of our experience.
A central pedagogical task is to tell students that their problem is that they do not have minds worth making up. That is why training is so important, because training involves the formation of the self through submission to authority that will provide people with the virtues necessary to make reasoned judgment.
(D)emocracy want to deny the necessary of a master…That is why I often suggest that the most determinative moral formation most people have in our society is when they learn to play baseball, basketball, quilt, cook or learn to lay bricks. For such sports and crafts remain morally antidemocratic insofar as they require acknowledgment of authority based on a history of accomplishment.
We only learn how to be courageous, and thus how to judge what we must do through imitation…often the best teachers in a craft do not necessarily produce the best work, but they help us understand what kind of work is best.
What the craft is about is determined historically within the context of particularistic communities…it reminds us that Christianity is not beliefs about God plus behavior. We are Christians not because of what we believe, but because we have been called to be disciples of Jesus. To become a disciple is not a matter of a new or changed self-understanding, but rather to become part of a different community with a different set of practices.
For example, I am sometimes confronted by people who are not Christians but who say they want to know about Christianity. This is a particular occupational hazard for theologians around a university, because it is assumed that we are smart or at least have a Ph.D., so we must really know something about Christianity. After many years of vain attempts to “explain” God as trinity, I now say, “Well, to begin with we Christians have been taught to pray, ‘Our father, who art in heaven…'” I then suggest that a good place to begin to understand what we Christians are about is to join me in that prayer.
For to learn to pray is no easy matter but requires much training…To learn to pray means we must acquire humility not as something we try to do, but as commensurate with the practice of prayer. In short…in learning to pray we humbly discover we cannot do other than believe in God.
As Christians, our worship is our morality, for it is in worship that we find ourselves engrafted into the story of God. It is in worship that we acquire the skills to acknowledge who we are – sinners. This is but a reminder that we must be trained to be a sinner…For example, as Christian we cannot learn to confess our sins unless we are forgiven…prior to forgiveness we cannot know we are sinners…But it is the great of the gospel that we will find our lives in that of Jesus only to the extent that we are capable of accepting forgiveness. But accepting forgiveness does not come easily, because it puts us out of control.
In like manner we must learn to be a creature…For creaturehood draws on a determinative narrative of God as creator that requires more significant knowledge of our humanity that simply that we are finite. For both the notions of creature and sinner require that we find ourselves constituted by narratives that we did not create.
…the notions of sinner and creature still sound more like self-understanding than characteristic of a craft. That is why we cannot learn to be a sinner separate from concrete acts of confession…(James 5:14-16). We cannot learn that we are sinners unless we are forced to confess our sins to other people in the church.
http://www.religion-online.org/showarticle.asp?title=110 (accessed May 12, 2017)