Watch the video below.
In the video, Marty argues that the spiritual environment we grow up in gives us a “language and palate” for faith, but it has to be appropriated–it has to become our own. He goes on to argue that our faith is constantly reshaped by “billions of particulars” and “51/49s.” Do you believe that is true for generations as well? Does each generation take the faith handed down to it and “appropriate it”? Shape it? Make it their own? Give an example from your reading in The Christian World that supports your claim.
As Marty says in the video, “appropriating” our faith is synonymous with “making it our own.” Thus, absolutely it holds true that our faith is constantly reshaped by “billions of particulars,” i.e. our individual conglomeration of life experiences. And so it is also true generationally. Each generation takes faith which is not only handed down, but expected, discussed or even dreamt based upon its own unique worldview at the time.
I’m quite certain that my grandparents would have been completely out of sorts if they walked into any number of contemporary church settings today, with the casual attire, piercings, tattoos, and what!? Even bass guitars. For their generation was one of organs, three-piece suits and cufflinks, and always the same routine and setting. While they worshipped the same God and gave thanks to His same Son, the manner in which they participated was vastly different – based upon their own appropriations of faith which stemmed from their own unique spiritual environment.
I could not concur more with what Marty replied when asked how he came into his faith: “gradually.” A gradual realization of any concept is what has the most staying power, grabs the strongest foothold, and cements our rock-solid belief system, even in the midst of future storms which threaten to flood our minds with differing, new-age opinions. I believe that is why Marty used the example of “the highs and lows of adolescence” and “death and remarriage” – against the backdrop of such character shaping life events is when the most faith appropriation occurs.
As Marty says, “The Western European church was not devoid of theology during the era of the Crusades and intra-European holy wars.” I can’t even imagine any more “theological” a time period in the scrim of war. Many Catholics today would argue that this is still the greatest time of religion and theology in the history of its church. Every individual was enmeshed in the situation of the time and each formed their own unique appropriation of faith from it. It could not be escaped. Yet, according to Marty, “while many theologians were concerned with the teaching of original sin or the sacraments, most important and revealing was the Western church’s revisiting of the themes about Jesus Christ that had first been formulated in Asia in the fourth and fifth centuries.” He goes on to say that they had to deal with “left-over” issues and they did.
So while the Crusaders had their own appropriations given the world around them in which they lived, they also were dealing with prior belief systems handed down to them from prior generations, most notably and unresolved point amongst the councils at Nicaea and Chalcedon of how Jesus could be both man and God.
It is no different for us today. We have each appropriated our faith based on our gradual accumulation of “billions of particulars” while, at the same time, questioning certain key points which arise from others sharing the same time and space in this generation. To that end, I would say that we are all purposeful, active, and timely participants partaking in the big picture at the hand of our sovereign artist.
Marty, Martin. The Christian World, A Global History. Page 97. New York: Modern Library, 2009.
 Marty, Martin. The Christian World, A Global History. Pages 97-98. New York: Modern Library, 2009.
 Marty, Martin. The Christian World, A Global History. Page 98. New York: Modern Library, 2009.