Christians have long been tempted to the error aptly labeled quietism—the studied attempt to bifurcate one’s life and restrict expressions and even consideration of spiritual realities to a narrow Christian realm of their lives or to occasions of overt religious practice, while living the rest of life according to the prevailing standards, patterns, and even accepted truths of the surrounding world and life of mundane existence. Christianity is reduced to one’s “personal faith” and it fails to shape and direct the living of the Christian. But Christianity is not merely a conviction about the Bible, a confidence in the existence of God, or an ethical guide for one’s life. To be a Christian is to follow Christ, and Christians owe those around them a consistent, credible, and genuine witness of the reality of the claims of Christ. Such a witness does not demand moral perfection, a comprehension of the whole of Christian doctrine, or the ability to engage in spirited apologetics or polemics.
The necessary witness requires only the humble dependence of the Believer on the grace and promises of Christ, and the determination to honor him by doing God’s will in life and speaking about his truth as it is personally known and experienced when opportunities arise. The witness of a young person who lives not for self (focused on gaining academic or financial success or amplifying the pleasures of the moment), or even for a “cause,” but for the sake of Christ is powerful, indeed. This is a central responsibility of the Christian on campus.
Joel D. Biermann, Ph.D. is the Waldemar A. and June Schuette Professor of Systematic Theology at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis.
For Professor Biermann's full treatment of this question:
Biermann, Joel, Wholly Citizens: God's Two Realms and Christian Engagement with the World
Biermann, Joel, A Case for Character: Towards a Lutheran Virtue Ethics