I’ve been putting off this entry for a while, cos it’s difficult to write, but having changed the name of the blog a while back to reflect where I’m at faith-wise it’s odd not to have written about it at all. So I shall try to write this down. I think it will be helpful for me.
I’ll try my best not to turn it into autobiography but some background would be useful. I was raised in what I’d call a fairly dry evangelical methodist church. I remember making a conscious decision to make the faith my own. Later when I went away to study, I went to various charismatic churches. I ended up at a New Frontiers church in Newcastle where I was for six or seven years. However I became disillusioned and also burnt out and stopped going to church. I stopped praying and no longer considered myself a Christian. However in the back of my mind I think I always thought I’d “go back” eventually.
In many ways the first step towards that was joining Ship of Fools and reading and posting there. Unfortunately, or fortunately, I think I found that my views had changed, were changing. So it was no longer just a question of getting over disappointment and disillusionment but of asking what I (still) believed.
I guess one starting point, certainly a key in why I left the church to begin with, is in not overriding my experience with the ‘absolute truth’ of the bible. And though it wasn’t a feature so much of my Christian background that same principle would now apply equally to Church Tradition. Any external standard that gets to overrule the evidence of my or others experience is suspect to me. So for example, I used to believe that to have gay sex was wrong, but ultimately my only reason for saying so was what it said in the bible. Today I say that it’s no more right or wrong than hetero-sex in that it can be an expression of love or it can be abuse – or any of hundreds of other things. The problem with saying something is wrong purely based on some absolute standard that can’t be questioned is that it short-cuts the learning process. You are unable to learn from your experiences if certain conclusions have to be ruled out (or in) before you start.
What I find is from that one standard a lot of what I used to believe falls away because I can no longer say, I believe this because this is what the bible says (or because it’s what the Church historically has believed). Without such an objective source I’m left without much certainty and when it comes to God and stuff you need revelation. So I thought it might be useful to write down what I still believe.
What I Believe
– I believe that there is something more to life than can be apprehended with our senses.
– I also believe that there is some sort of conscious force for good in the universe which is what I’ll call God. Whether God is the Christian God or not, I don’t know. Whether he’s the creator, all-powerful, all-knowing I don’t know.
– I believe that experiencing some sort of connection with God can be a good thing.
– I also believe that having a higher purpose can be a good thing.
– I’m not sure what I think about Jesus. He was at least a very radical man who shook up the religious establishment of his day. Whether I follow his teachings or see him as God, I’m not so sure.
That’s about all I can think of. Not much is it? Also in light of the last point especially perhaps I should be looking at other faiths but somehow, I can’t quite let go of Christianity because it’s where I came from. It’s where I learned a lot of stuff, had a lot of experiences and still have friends. It’s where I learnt that there is a ‘spiritual world’ for want of a better term. Maybe it’s foolish but for the time being I can’t see myself throwing it in to look at Bhuddism or something.