Devo's Blog

Thursday, October 5, 2006

Theological Throwdown, Round One

In addition to my personal musings you notice that I occasionally comment on subjects of a religious nature. Don't know what you think of it, but for me it's part and parcel to why I began blogging: to be more transparent, more honest with myself about who I am and what I stand for. I used to think that a person's core beliefs were their own business, and as long as one didn't abuse others for thinking differently we could all get along. I've since realized the fallacy of such naive daydreams.

Based on the nature of my posts you can probably make some fairly accurate infererences about my spiritual bent, but I thought it would be good to state what I, at this moment in my life with the experiences I've had, believe and maybe more importantly, don't believe. So without an further preamble, here I go:
  • Although I view the Bible as the word of God to the people of God, I don't believe it is innerant and therefore to be interpreted in a strict, literal sense in every instance.
  • Although I believe in Jesus and his sacrificial death and resurrection, I'm not sold on the doctrine of substitutionary atonement; I have a hard time making sense of the idea that the only way an all-powerful, omnipotent God could forgive sin was to be forced to sacrifice his son.
  • I DO believe Jesus' death was the ultimate expression of God's love and forgiveness for humankind.
  • I don't believe in the Elect or Predenstination.
  • I don't believe that holding to some flavor of dispensationalism (pre-trib, post-trib, whatever) is required in order to be a Christian.
  • I don't hold to the notion that God will send people like Gandhi (who read the gospels, revered Jesus, and lived a more authentic Christian life than most anyone else in history) to hell. It's God's perogative to judge who he finds acceptable, not us. I believe (like Jesus said many times) that many people will be very surprised by his choices.
  • I am not threatened by doubt, in fact I don't believe authentic faith can exist without it.
  • I'm not threatened by women being pastors, elders, etc. - I welcome it.
  • I'm not threatened by homosexuals following Christ, even if they do so without becoming "straight." I had an uncle who was gay and lived an exemplary life in service to Christ and I loved him for that. I may or may not agree (I'm not completely certain about this controversial issue), but I'm not threatened that our nation's "moral values" or Christianity is in danger due to some nefarious "homosexual agenda."
  • I certainly DON'T believe that God will destroy our country Sodom & Gomorrah-style because of them. I think God's got more important things on his mind.
  • I care about moral values, especially those relating to the kind of people Jesus cared the most about: the outcast, the despised, those judged unworthy of God's love and forgiveness, the poor, the corrupt, the addicts, and so on. Talking about moral values without any mention of these is hypocritical and chaps my hide.
  • I don't believe the United States is a Christian nation founded on the Bible especially blessed by God to spread Democracy and Christianity. (Thomas Jefferson himself edited a version of the gospels devoid of any miracles and mention of Jesus' divinity - he considered these ideas superstitious and absurd.)
  • I'm a pacifist and take it seriously - it's part of my family Quaker heritage and who I am as a Christian.
Because of my views I've been the recipient of intense anger, ostracism and persecution of a very personal nature; I've been accused of being a "liberal feminist" who "didn't have any morals" because I didn't "see anything in black and white - only grey"; I've been demonized and dismissed as an unbeliever. There was a time I was deeply offended by this (I still struggle with it at times), but I've come to realize that in some ways I am a liberal feminist. I am also a Christian and I don't necessarily see the two as incompatible. Besides, from a secular liberal point viewpoint, many of my beliefs fall into the conservative category. My upshot being, it's largely a matter of perspective and, as a Christian, the only one I really have to answer to is Jesus himself. I don't particularly like labels, but I guess if I was going to slap one on myself, it would be that of "Progressive Christian". I'll leave it to you to figure out what that might possibly mean.

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