Who Is A Hero Of The Faith?

I received a comment to my last post from Fred Warren that started me thinking. In part, he said,

I think Lewis would recoil at the suggestion that he is a “Hero of the Faith,” insisting instead that he is merely a “sinner saved by grace.”

I answered that I doubt most of the people we think of — and here I had the list of people in Hebrews 11 in mind — would have considered themselves as “heroes of the faith.”

But what qualifies one to be considered a hero of the faith?

I was thinking about “hero,” period. The other day a four-year-old called 9-1-1 when his dad cut himself severely (could have bled to death). He was called a hero.

And the staffer who helped the Arizona senator who’d been shot was called a hero, though he said he wasn’t.

Captain Sully Sullenberger who safely landed his plane in the river, saving everyone aboard, was called a hero. But so was the man some years earlier who climbed out of a plane that crashed into the water, only to dive back in and save two others before he himself perished.

Is saving life what qualifies as hero status? Or is it surviving horrific circumstances? Some called the Chilean miners trapped for months below the surface, heroes.

But this post is really about heroes of the faith — the Christian faith. Is Jim Elliot a hero of the faith because he died in his effort to tell the Waodani people about Christ? Or was Elizabeth Elliot the hero for going back into the jungles of Ecuador to carry on his work?

Is Joni Eareckson Tada a hero of the faith for enduring suffering all these years even as she praises God with everything she does?

Or how about a girl named Katie who at age 16 makes plans to do a year of mission work before going to college. Only that year turns into a ministry that continues six years later.

Here’s a snippet of the post the link above will take you to:

It is December and God has spoken very clearly about opening a ministry that sponsors 40 of the orphaned children in the village where I am working. This involves moving into a different house, ALONE. It is big and I cannot imagine how God will fill it up. I am lonely and I am anxious. But I am still trusting. He fills the house, and we now have 400 children sponsored.

The thing I notice is that faith isn’t something fearless people have. It actually is what God gives as an antidote for fear.

So that’s the faith part — fearful people trusting God regardless of their dangerous, deadly, crippling, lonely circumstances.

The hero part? I think it’s living in such a way that others want to be like you. I don’t think heroes set out to be examples for others — they just are.

Published in: on February 2, 2011 at 7:18 pm  Comments (4)  
Tags: , , , ,

4 Comments

  1. “The thing I notice is that faith isn’t something fearless people have. It actually is what God gives as an antidote for fear.” Great thought.

    As long as there is faith, there is hope.

    Like

  2. Thanks for your feedback, Bob. I always appreciate hearing from visitors.

    Like

  3. Great post, Becky. It gets to the heart of what I was trying to point out–“hero” is a label we apply, and it may be quite appropriate, but it’s our response to the label that’s problematical.

    On the one hand, labeling someone a hero has the potential to inspire the sort of uncritical idolatry you were correctly warning against with regard to Lewis or any other popular figure. On the other hand, it creates an impossible standard. Eventually, somebody of an iconoclastic bent is going to point out that our hero’s character was less than spotless, or his theology was tainted, or whatever, and therefore, he’s unworthy of our admiration. His human imperfection disqualifies him.

    For Christian heroes, though, that sort of ad hominem attack doesn’t make sense. A Christian hero isn’t heroic because he’s perfect, he’s heroic because he cooperates with God’s grace, despite his imperfections, accomplishing great things in God’s service. We desperately need that kind of example as we run our own race. The “Faith Hall of Fame” in Hebrews 11, from another perspective, includes a rogues’ gallery of misfits, outcasts, and scoundrels, whose distinguishing characteristic was their trust in God. Heroes? You bet.

    Like

  4. A Christian hero isn’t heroic because he’s perfect, he’s heroic because he cooperates with God’s grace, despite his imperfections, accomplishing great things in God’s service.

    Excellent, Fred. That’s it exactly! I love this discussion.

    Becky

    Like


Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: