“The Hebrew is concerned with practice, the Greek with knowledge. Right conduct is the ultimate concern of the Hebrew, right thinking that of the Greek.” -William Barrett
I remember learning this distinction between these two ancient ways of thinking sometime shortly after high school when I was at YWAM. The basic idea that some saw “belief” as merely an intellectual exercise, and others as more a matter of action. Our society, and much of the church, is dominated by a Greek way of thinking. So, “believing” in Jesus is mostly a matter of praying a prayer or agreeing to a particular creed.
I’m not sure if it was some traditional Hebraic thinking in me or my love for the book of James, but I remember then immediately being hooked on this concept and that it only made sense that the Hebraic way of thinking, that belief was a matter of action, was the right way. And I still think that today.
I don’t deny that “thinking” and intellectual understanding of ones faith has relevance and impact, but if it’s not coupled with action it seems to lose credibility (though I am certainly not the judge of your beliefs or actions).
The church in the US, at least as I’ve experienced it, seems dominated by this Greek way of thinking. In most churches I’ve been in, if you do not say you believe the basic tenants, if your not a member of the church (which involves stating belief in those basic tenants of the faith), or if you express any intellectual doubt, you will be treated as one who is either not yet part of the fold or one who has fallen away or is in danger of doing so. Yet, that same measure seems to rarely be used in terms of ones actions (and I don’t just mean avoiding the big taboos or helping out at church). The church just doesn’t seem to care all that much if your life looks more like your consumeristic, secular, patriotic neighbor then your homeless, selfless, outcast Savior.
“I will show you my faith by what I do.” -James 2:18