For some reason today has been the day appointed by the cosmos for me to come to terms with the theology I have chosen to subscribe to. The subject was broached with a challenge in Facebook, and as I mulled it over, and went to church, and stared at the words on the wall to the worship song, I needed to know for myself, where I stand.
For starters, lets get one thing clear: I believe in God. I believe God takes many forms in many cultures. I believe that God is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent. I believe that Jesus is God's son - in the same sense that I am his daughter, and have the same means of communication with God that Christ did. I believe the bible is an interesting cultural collection of anecdotes, wisdom and rules. I believe that the word of God (not to be confused with the bible) is living and present and speaks among us and through us daily. I believe God has as much to say to me through my kids or my heathen friends, as he does through a leather bound, gold edged book.
I believe our purpose for life is to use every breath to the best effect for every person. I believe that our destiny, ordained by God, is fulfilled by every choice, action and word that we make. I believe that sin is any transgression against natural law that results in pain or negative consequence for ones self or another person. I believe these consequences are the reminders we are given to redirect us and send us back on the path of blessing, which is fulfilling our individual destiny of making each day better for ourselves and everyone around us. This is the gospel I believe in spreading to the world.
I believe that God is love, and the best way we serve God is by being love to everyone around us.
I believe that heaven and hell are the promise of consequences here on earth, and ever after for rest and peace, or the opposite. I believe that the worst idea of hell is reserved for those who, without conscience, subject others to the painful consequences of violating the laws under which we function: natural, spiritual, emotional, social, cultural, psychological and relational.
I believe that everything happens for a reason, and we are given the tools that we need throughout our life to make the best of it and change bad for good.
All of this being said, I can be free to worship the God of Love and Master of Creation without being hindered by guilt about which rules I have broken according to Dueteronomy, Anne Byrd, or any other spiritual influences I have had.
I can respect and honor the beliefs of my family and friends in a literal messiah and an infallible scripture. I understand the desire for a script, a map to follow, a directive. I've never been one for directions. But I believe in relationship. If God says to me: don't do this, it's evil!!! I could care less. Evil sounds a little fun. But if God says to me: Don't do this, it hurts! I can receive that. Whether its me, or someone else hurting, it's a violation of why we are here on earth. God is the grace, the space, the love we need to make the right choices, the unselfish ones, the clean ones. God is the access we have to empathy, to hope and to vision. God is the bridge between our shallow selves and the wholeness of community.
At the risk of sounding blasphemous, I cannot reconcile myself with Christ as the Son of God, the only Way to Salvation, the Messiah. I believe God's story is so much bigger and more varied than that. That Jesus bled for our liberty from hell is great. But why don't we worship religiously at the foot of every soldier that has suffered and died, many just as heinously as Christ, for our liberties? Why is The trial that Christ endured more than any martyr in history for a different cause? So he was innocent. Blameless. How many innocent people have suffered. Free of sin? That depends on whom you ask. According to some cultures, Jesus was as depraved as any of us. If Christ bled and died for our sins, why are any of us subjected to painful consequences? Following that logic, my period should have ceased to torment me the minute I was saved. But then again, Christ himself said that he did not come to abolish the law - so we should still be confined during menstruation? Or we should be required to marry our brother in law if we are widowed? Or we should be stoned for being raped?? Which law remains? The laws against homosexuality? But not the laws against eating pork or being in public when you're on your period? It's a little blurry to me. And not for lack of reading. I'd love to hear other interpretations on this... Although I'm pretty sure I've heard them all.
I would call myself a Theist, in the sense of the early founding fathers, who believed that God granted us as humans, all of the tools to make our lives exactly what they should be, a blessing. Free will leaves it to us to decide whether we will subject good or bad consequences on those we come into contact with. Sure God can fix it. He's omnipotent. There are miracles. There is grace. There are keys - some of these we find in the bible, or maybe the Qran. While we're on the subject, if you're interested, I love the Old Testament. It's fascinating. I love the gospel of Luke. It's rich in detail and thus, drama. I hate Paul. He's a chauvinist and a pompous, self righteous ass. I see these same personalities in modern day pastors/disciples. I love the logic and insight of the Catholic GK Chesterton, the Protestant CS Lewis and the Presuppositionist Francis Schaeffer, and the Objectivist Ayn Rand. God speaks through many channels.
I know this violates the traditional literalist sensibilities of many of my friends and family, for which I apologize. I honor your belief and respect your choices. For my children I hope and pray that they find the path to God that grants them the fulfillment of their destiny.
But as for me - "my God and I don't need a middle man". We have a relationship. I talk to God more candidly than I would to most people. "Sometimes I use curse words when I pray." I don't care if he made the world in 7 days or 7 billion years. It's still amazing. This life is precious. That is universal. The interpretation of this religiously is cultural. We live in a Judeo Christian culture which means church on Sunday and a leather bound bible. I'm fine with that. And I'm excited to get back to where I can worship God without being hijacked by the guilt of Christianity and cultural norms. I'm ready to re-start this journey.
Orthodoxy, GK Chesterton
The Great Divorce, CS Lewis
The God Who Is There, Francis Schaeffer
Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand