Sunday, June 8, 2008

Clarifying My Christianity

OK, I promise: I will get to some other topics that have been bouncing around in my brain dealing with any number of readings I’ve run across in the past week. However, a recent misunderstanding, and some odd random comments have me thinking that I need to do another entry to explain my views as a lay member of the Episcopal Church…and my concepts of God and Christianity that are drawn and formulated without the influence of a Seminary education.

To put it simply, I believe in the statements that are in the Nicene Creed. And not just because this is the prayer we recite after the sermon. I actually do believe that God, upon seeing how things were going in the world, made the effort to reach out to a particular group of people and get them back on board with the “love program” by becoming human, living among us as one of us, dying as a criminal, and rising from the dead and ascending into heaven. He did this through Jesus Christ. And while Jesus is no longer with us in the physical sense, I believe that Jesus (God) remains with us through the power of the Holy Spirit.

I believe that when one listens to the readings from the Bible, or reads them aloud or quietly, what is there is a loving invitation to enter into a relationship with God. I believe the books of the Bible, no matter what group of guys sat around centuries ago deciding the “Who’s in and who’s out”, have a message that says God loved Israel’s people, God wants to be a part of our daily living, and no matter what we do to shove Him away, He will remain in the background waiting for us to finish whatever temper tantrum or self-imposed exile we’re having that keeps us from seeing and believing in His love.

Having said all this, I do not and have not and will not ever assert that I am the authority on God’s mind. And anyone who claims to understand how God works or seems to think they have an inside track with the Almighty is, well, a liar. Because I also believe we will never fully “understand” God. There is no scientific formula to test and prove that God “exists”. To be a believer in God (and this applies to any tradition that has a belief in God) means that, at some point, you have to have faith, meaning you have to abandon the rational, and analytical approach to follow something that can not be proven like a mathematical formula. Such is my way of accepting the seemingly bonkers concept of a triune God, who I do not think of as three totally separate and apart beings, but rather manifestations of a single Divine spirit. God, in my opinion, is a master creator and will pursue us through any means to show us the Divine.

And now having said all that, I also don’t claim that one has to be a Christian to gain entry into the Kingdom of Heaven. Sometimes, it has felt to me that some in Christianity think they can change the locks on the doors to the Kingdom to keep some of us with keys from getting in. But I believe in what is written in the Gospel of John that “in my Father’s house there are many rooms.” And I think that each one of us who has accepted the invitation to God’s grace and party house will find the door in which our key fits and we’ll be allowed in. Because I believe that God knows me and wants me to come to his party. Otherwise, He wouldn’t have come after me as I walked away! My door to the party bears a crucifix because I have accepted that Jesus is God incarnate and through him I have been brought to the other side of darkness into the light. But there are lots of other entry ways with lots of other symbols. And, again, I think we’ll all be surprised to see who’s also at the party.

That’s my theology as of June 2008. And now, I’ve got to get ready to enter into communion with others who may share some of this thinking, or may not. But, at the very least, they’re showing up for another dose of God’s love as presented at St. John’s.

Questions? Comments? Concerns? I yield the virtual floor to you.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I was struck by something that I read recently about the headstones at Arlington Cemetery. They put the different symbols of the deceased's faith on the stone along with their other information, and I was struck by the fact that the Pentacle was also included as one of the symbols. If this isn't wonderful and mysterious than I am "jiggered".

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