That is the question that was given to my CnC (Confirm not Conform) Adult class last night. The issue isn't what have others told me I SHOULD believe --- the question is what do I believe. The other assignment was to find some type of spiritual practice and do it every day for the next week. So I have decided to put them together. My practice will be to write (journal) every day. We will see how well I am able to do it. My goal is to do it first thing in the morning --- but time will tell . . .
Have you ever really thought about what you believe? To sit down and write out what one really believes is a scary task. It forces me to look with honesty at what is in the depths of my soul --- not just the politically correct statements that come out of my mouth. As some of you read this (fortunately not many do) I will probably share heresies according to the "church." I am alright with that --- I hope that you are too, but regardless --- this is about me trying to mine the depths of my soul and put words to the most perplexing (an ultimately impossible to understand) concepts of all time.
My intention is to take each day this week and lift up one concept. Today I will look at God; followed by Jesus, the Spirit, the Bible, the Church and then who knows what. I just hope I don't chicken out. By then I might not be employed any longer, and looking for new opportunities!
One other comment, this is not about seeking a debate. We all approach these concepts with different eyes and different world views --- I will respect yours --- please respect mine.
Who is God to me? I believe God is creator. Did it happen with a big bang, or Adam and Eve? --- I don't know (and don't really care). My hunch is science has a better handle on it than the biblical texts but regardless, I believe in a God who is behind it all.
I love how Paul Tillich describes God. Tillich called God being itself --- God is not a being among other beings. The phrase that is often associated with Tillich and one that I have latched on to is "God is the ground of all being." It goes beyond the scope of this today to dig into what that means -- but in as nutshell for me it means two things 1) God is. Nothing really else needs to be, or can be, said about that. 2) God is not a theistic being living up in heaven. That is probably the more troubling concept to many, because the church has continually taught that God is "up" there, sitting on a throne or judgment seat. For me God is not "up" there but God is here.
That leads to another area that needs exploring. I do not believe God is an interventionist God. I don't believe Tom Brady played better football last night because his priest publicly prayed to God about it. If God does intervene, God seems awfully shallow and capricious, and that is not the God I believe in. I have written about this many times over the years.
So what does God do? God gives us a moral direction and code that is constantly being revised and challenged in light of culture. The challenge is to keep at the center what is at the center of God. And to me, that is LOVE. Scot McKnight and I would disagree on many things, but one thing we agree on is that the center of the Christian Biblical message is found it what he dubbed "the Jesus Creed". The Jesus Creed really isn't anything more than the central conviction of the Hebrew Bible (the Shema) along with a passage from Leviticus 19:18. In all three synoptic Gospels, Jesus is asked what the greatest commandment is.
“Which commandment is the first of all?” Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12
God came to teach us about LOVE! If you don't learn anything else, but learn to love (truly love) the world would be a better place and more like the Kingdom that Jesus proclaimed. I will discuss that when I get to Jesus.
This certainly isn't a systematic approach to what I believe. But it is an attempt on my part to state where I stand. But at the end of the day I have to admit --- I really don't know. God is beyond my capacity to really understand. All I have is my experiences and the teachings that have been shared with me. I am in no way a real scholar --- but
I seek to learn each and every day.