Recently a gentleman introduced himself to me as “A devout Lutheran.” Then, by God’s grace, I read about a celebrity who described himself as “A devout atheist.” What constitutes a devout atheist, pray tell? We know that a devout Catholic goes to church on a regular basis, goes to confession when needed and prays daily. A nominal Catholic may hit the pew once or twice a year, if there isn’t a wedding or funeral to attend. A lapsed Catholic fails in even the semiannual sacramental sally forth that occurs Christmas and Easter.
If then there is a devout atheist, is there a nominal atheist? “I don’t believe in God, but sometimes, about twice a year, I find myself walking into a church and praying.” Depending on the genesis (no pun intended) of the person, a lapsed atheist could be a devout Lutheran, devout Catholic, etc. Then there are the agnostics–those who doubt the existence of God rather than denying it. Would a devout agnostic never search for God or hang on to the question hoping it was never answered? Certainly a nominal agnostic seasonally embraces or abjures faith in the almighty. The lapsed agnostic could be a nominal Catholic, Lutheran, atheist, etc. Also an agnostic who doubts about his doubts enough that he or she embraces devotedness could be Catholic, Lutheran, atheist, etc.
Perhaps the bottom line is that devotedness, nominalism and lapsadaisicality (if you can’t invent words, why write) are degrees of caring about faith? The devoted do something about it, the nominal may get concerned occasionally and the lapsed are without care in regard to a Supreme Being or his mandates. For those of us who care, the devotees, all action flows from faith and all faith from Jesus. Church laws are meaningless without the foundation of theology, and theology is a useless study without the Lord Jesus.
I wonder if I can find a self described nominal nominalist?