If I had a dime for all the times I heard it said “of like precious faith”, I’d likely be very rich today (but only if I didn’t give all those dimes away in the offering).
“Of like precious faith” was a code phrase, much like other code phrases that were common in the group I grew up in. Now, when I read anything from that group, I read things that others without that background do not get. I’ve often shown a friend or co-worker something to explain the subtle mental and spiritual abuse, only to have them look at me blankly and ask, “what does this and that mean?” We had our own language that only the special “chosen few” could understand.
The phrase “of like precious faith” did not refer to all other believers, as one might think. It referred only to those who had your own special brand of salvation, doctrine, and dress code. It meant you were in the “in” crowd, the one where people were somehow perceived to be closer to God.
“Of like precious faith” did not mean you were truly a person who had a lot of faith in God–you might perhaps have no faith in God whatsoever, but only believe in your own works to save you. It didn’t mean that you were a person who was precious to be around either. It was quite possible you would be a nasty spirited person who criticized and judged everyone. In fact, often “of like precious faith” meant you were one of the group who looked down on others as being lesser than you and your in crowd.
In reality, the term “of like precious faith” was more like a code name for quite the opposite than what it implied. Often, one could’ve just as easily said “of like minded abuse” and been more accurate. This “precious faith” simply meant that you were one of the elite few who had it made, as far as going to heaven went. You had figured out the formula for the “Kool-aid” that would mark you as one of the group. You had the right clothing on, the right hairstyle, and the judgmental attitude to boot.
All kinds of abusers flew under that flag! Sociopaths were welcome, especially in leadership. Bring your Narcissistic self right on up in your fancy clothing, big Bible in hand. You were already labeled as one of the superior race of Christian, God’s own apostle, regardless of how you treated your family or those in your congregation.
It was a phrase that marked you apart and let people know you were “safe”–they could believe every word that came out of your mouth and they’d better accept you with open arms, lest they prove to not be “of like precious faith” themselves.
Friday I shared with a female co-worker just a hint of something I’d been going through. She asked if I was a person who prayed. I said, “yes.” She asked if she could pray with me. I readily agreed. She began praying “Father, Daddy, …” and what followed was the most anointed prayer that really touched Heaven and instantly calmed my anxiety. Oh, wait! She wasn’t “of that precious faith”! She was Anglican…yet never a more fervent prayer has been prayed over me.
Where did the phrase “of like precious faith” originate? What “big wig” preacher started this? It ran like wild-fire through the ranks. It could never be said of a Baptist, Methodist, Assembly of God, or Presbyterian. In fact, behind the backs of such individuals, even the term “Christian” had to be said with air commas to show you truly believed the individual to be eternally lost and not Christian at all.
Recently a co-worker called me, confused. He is a therapist in a school district and was setting up an intake for a new client, when the clients mom began crying hysterically. He patiently began the job of calming her down. Her problem? She was Pentecostal and she couldn’t go to a counselor that wasn’t a “Christian counselor”. I reminded him that he is a Christian and he is a counselor, but I assured him that might not even be enough for her. I felt much pity and compassion, wondering if her pastor would be upset if she went to a counselor with real credentials, instead of just his own Bible with his man-made interpretation of it. My co-worker wasn’t “of like precious faith”.
Here we are, a lot of wounded souls, all affected by those “like minded abusers”. We once thought they were precious, once believed they were men and women of faith. But then the caressing words and the outpouring of “love” turned to criticism and shaming. Yet, again, here we are. We may be down, we may have been shoved out, shunned, belittled, and downtrodden, but we are alive.
We are learning a new word–FREEDOM. Step by slow step we are learning to find our way through the pain. We are doing it together…people of “like minded pain”, those of “like minded precious grace”. We are learning that there really are true Christians, and we find them in the halls of Anglican churches, on Episcopalian pews, and in many other places…people who do not express to us their religious beliefs per se–but they hold our hands, they hug us, they help us, and they show us true love.