Sunday, April 3, 2011

A Rebirth of faith

Since I sometimes get a kick out of reading my past religious musings, I decided to read a couple of my old blog entries the other day and happened to notice that while I had written thirty-three entries in 2009, I only had six entries for 2010. And so my question to myself was naturally, why did I write so little last year in comparison to the year before? Was it a lack of time or lack of ideas? Or was it the fact that my blog entries dont typically spur the conversations that my facebook posts tend to? Did I just have more to say as a new universalist/heretic in 2009 than in 2010 and beyond?

Truthfully, probably each of those things contributed a bit Im sure, but maybe the main reason is that the more I question every bit of my past understandings of God and faith, the less neat and definable my personal theology becomes. And its a little frustrating, honestly. I often find myself wishing I could return to the days of simplistic faith, when I didnt over-analyze everything I believed and why; when I just assumed the preachers could understand God and the Bible better than me. Yet in another sense I am glad that I am free of that dogmatic and legalistic system. My nervousness does not outweigh my feelings of liberation; a liberation that encourages me to finally go through with this ordination process and help others seek out God in Christ even beyond the orthodox understandings.

None the less though, I feel confronted with a belief-structure that is on its deathbed. And when a lot of religious people come to this point, the majority seem to find ways to just let go of spirituality all together (even if its over the course of several years). However I feel to do so would "throw the baby out with the bathwater" as the old saying goes. This is because I still find value in the spiritual symbols I've come to know and love, as well as my Christian tradition and its scriptures. Yet I've come to find that the more I examine not just individual doctrines, but the entire paradigm ive constructed is in desperate need of a refreshed and updated approach. Like the legend of the mythical Phoenix bird, no matter how magnificent it may have seemed at one time it eventually gets old, tired, and in need of that final rest. But as the story goes, the sun would shine down upon the bird bursting its remains into flames (or...something) and from its ashes a new fledging Phoenix would arise. And I am hoping and searching for God to do much the same thing to my faith (which I dont think is a stretch, giving the whole "born again" concept is a fairly big staple concept in Christian tradition).

So what might this reborn faith or approach to faith look like? To be honest, beyond a few vague ideas, I dont really know. I definitely dont think it means giving up on either God, Jesus, the Bible or even certain Christian rituals. What I think it does mean however, is attempting to look at all those things in a different (and often times, more reasonable) light, only returning to traditional ideas when and if they actually seem to work in a consistent spiritual paradigm. Its the kind of faith that isnt interested in being different from traditional Christianity merely for the sake of being different, but at the same time doesnt hold to it and its answers unquestionably so. It would be aware that it can be deceived and wrong at times, yet it is not afraid to use the heart and mind that God himself gave us. It is a faith that loves and cherishes the Bible (and even possibly other holy books or books period) but is aware that realistically no one writer or person can speak for God, even if he/she has a message inspired by their God experience or Gods spirit. This faith would be free from the delusion that any one religion or spiritual perspective can fully contain, define and confine the vast and mysterious entity we call God. And this faith realizes that for every statement or hypothesis about God and truth that we can make, it will most likely only be a shadow or outline of the actual reality. In a nutshell (or bird eggshell), this faith is simply interested in discovering and experiencing the God and His/Her/Its truth, whatever and wherever that is.

Is this kind of faith possible without drifting off into extreme spiritual vagueness and uncertainty? I honestly dont know. I suppose the best one can do is to try to "test the spirits"(1 John 4:1) and determine if what we believe or are coming to believe is worthy of the God we have come to experience, which is not an answer that will be the same for everyone. We should also look at each of our beliefs much like Jesus suggests we should look at people (Matthew 7:15-20), and determine from the "fruit" produced which is good and which is not. If said fruit causes us to be violent, angry, sad or in any way abusive to others and the world/opportunities given to us, then it may indeed be bad fruit. However, if it causes us to show love, use our resources wisely, discover peace and connect us with the God experience, it is likely to be a good fruit. And while this approach doesnt necessarily determine which beliefs about God and truth are indeed true, it may at least give us a guiding star by which to determine what may be MORE true about God and what may be MORE true about ourselves and others.


  1. So where does the Bible stand with you? If you do not trust in God's Word, what do you trust in? And don't just pop-off with "God", because that is where His Word comes in...

  2. Well, it is traditional assumption that the bible is "Gods word", but I no longer find that to be an accurate or useful term for the Bible. And even if it was, it wasnt (and doesnt) make things really any less complicated, since plenty of well-meaning and God-fearing individuals have drawn very different conclusions from the Bible.

    I guess you could say I trust in my experiences. The experience of me accepting Jesus as lord was similar to me believing all are saved was similar to me believing God is bigger than the bible. This doesnt mean Im right about each of those things or any of them but my experiences and what I learn from them have more importance and application to me than say someone elses supposed experiences. I see the Bible as a book of experiences people may or may not have had with God, as well as writings reflecting just what they thought about God and making sense of the universe and how God dealt with it. It is beneficial in that way, but I wouldnt really call it authoritative.