In The Fire of Delayed Answers, author Bob Sorge, discusses two camps (or two dominating ideas) of Christian faith, at least as practiced in the United States. The camp of quietness emphasizes the sovereignty of God; the camp of confidence emphasizes “the availability of God’s promises and power to those who believe.” And there you have to two major wings of evangelical Christianity in America.
We didn’t know it at the time, or refer to it this way at the time, but the terms fit. And they’ve fit for a long time. When we moved to St. Louis in the late 1970s, we had a difficult time finding a church like we had in Houston. In Houston, we attended a church that Sorge would characterize as firmly in the camp of confidence. We couldn’t find a similar church in St. Louis, and we ended up at a church just as firmly in the camp of quietness.
Some years later, we did find a new church (confidence camp) and another that was closer to where we had moved (again, confidence camp). When that church began to blow up, we eventually found our way to where we are now, a Presbyterian church that is heart and soul in the camp of quietness (Presbyterian is another name for “sovereignty,” I think).
The fact is, you need both camps. And the fact is, you rarely find both in the same church. But you can individually keep the two in balance, until, as Sorge puts it, the Assyrians invade and “all hell breaks loose.” He says it’s amazing how quickly “our quietness and confidence can disappear. It can be an enormous challenge to rebuild both quietness and confidence while the crisis continues to rage about us.”
Did someone say crisis? What crisis?
A very close relative has just been moved to hospice care.
I haven’t had a boss at work in over four months, the organization is being reorganized around us, and I’m not likely to have a boss for at least another four months.
In the past six months, our church has lost almost all of its pastors and some key staff people. The elders are working very hard to lead, which I think will be a very good thing for the long run. In the short term, things seem bewildering at times (and I’m a deacon).
Two of the organizations I write for online are experiencing change, and both are still sorting things out.
It does feel at time the Assyrians have arrived. I don’t feel quiet, and I don’t feel particularly confident.
But I know which camp I lean towards in a time like this one, and that’s the camp of quietness, the cleft in the rock away from the wind and fire.
As Sorge says, hear of the heart of your Father:
“Find a place of quietness in Me by settling your soul and stilling your spirit, and relinquish everything into My hands; and let your heart rise up in confidence in Me, by pressing into My face, devouring My word, claiming My promises, and making the good confession.”
Led by Jason Stasyszen and Sarah Salter, we’ve been reading The Fire of Delayed Answers. Today concludes the discussion on chapter 10, “The Dance of the Two Camps.” To see more posts on this chapter, please visit Sarah at Living Between the Lines.
Photograph by Petr Kratochvil via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission.