Religio Laici: A Layman's Faith

Religio Laici: A Layman's Faith

God’s nature is revealed to us through Scripture. We must actively engage His Word in order to understand our relationship with Him.

Growing up in a Christian home meant that there was never a point in my life when Scripture was not readily available to me. This does not mean that I was continually reading the Bible or had the desire to read it. Being born into the Church and raised by the teachings of Scripture did not save me from sin. I remember hearing many Bible stories from a young age.

I was never unaware of the God of Scripture, but my life was once so full of sin that I failed to possess the truth.

I have made far too many mistakes to think that being raised in the Church or knowing Bible stories would be enough. It was only through faith and the firm desire to repent of my wrongdoing that Scripture made much more sense and began to take root in my life.

John Dryden, in his poem entitled A Layman’s Faith, explains that in our disbelief in the divine we are only led by reason. We constantly seek answers to understand ourselves and the world around us, but we are not satisfied. An individual existing in doubt will not overcome this doubt with reason, but through faith, reason is satisfied. It is not that the deist or atheist cannot understand aspects of the world, but they will never reach a proper understanding of the Creator and His creation.

All of humanity worships. Some worship God but do so incorrectly. Scripture teaches us to worship God correctly. It is only when an individual is humbled by faith that he or she can truly encounter the God of Scripture. Scripture continually takes the focus off of ourselves and puts redemption in the hands of the Creator. Through redemption, the individual understands his or her relationship to God and to others. Christians cannot help but be reminded through the failures and successes of individuals in the Bible that they are made righteous through faith. 

In Scripture, we are given the representation of truth and Christ is revealed as the perfect embodiment of that truth.

Through this revelation, believers are given knowledge of redemption and instructions to live in God’s kingdom. We are called to imitate Christ. The Bible tells us our history, its law shows us our sin, and most importantly, its gospel reveals to us our Savior.

Ultimately, the author of all Scripture is the Holy Spirit, who gave divine inspiration to its authors. In musing on the authenticity of Scripture, Dryden writes:

Whence, but from Heav’n cou’d men, unskilled in Arts,

In several Ages born, in several parts,   

Weave such agreeing Truths? or how or why    

Shou’d all conspire to cheat us with a Lye?        

Unask’d their Pains, ungratefull their Advice,    

Starving their Gain and Martyrdom their Price.1

The Holy Spirit has preserved Scripture for the Church, and its validity has not changed throughout history. There have been many technological inventions and innovations that have taken place in my short lifetime. Human nature, however, has not changed: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). The hearing and reading of Scripture is as essential today as it has always been.

I have been blessed to grow up in the Church and live in a country that allows me to read and think freely. The prevenient grace of God brought me to the point of saying yes to Him and submitting my life to His plan. To follow Christ, we must know who Christ is. His plan for each of us is revealed to us through our reading of the Bible. There have been times in my life when I was skeptical that the God of the universe had a plan for me in His word. The irony is that in those times of uncertainty I was not engaging Scripture.

I thank God daily that He has been and is continually patient with me in my doubt. I strive to live in faith, and that faith grows through my encounter with the God of all, the God of Scripture.

Nathanael Gilmore is assistant to the General Editor of the Church of the Nazarene.

[1] Dryden, John. “Religio Laici; Or a Layman’s Faith.” Bartleby.com. http://www.bartleby.com/204/11.html. Accessed online (May 2, 2018).

Holiness Today, Jul/Aug 2018.

Please note: This article was originally published in 2018. All facts, figures, and titles were accurate to the best of our knowledge at that time but may have since changed.