Friday, May 2, 2008

Tradition: To be part of a community that tells these stories and sings these songs

The liberal religious author and scholar Marcus Borg wrote in 1993:
When I was a child, I thought that being a Christian was about "believing," and belief was no problem. When I was an adolescent and young adult, I struggled with trying to believe, and finally was no longer able to do so. Now I see that it is not a question of belief, and there is much that I do not believe. I do not believe that Christianity is the only way of salvation, or that the Bible is the revealed will of God, or that Jesus was the unique Son of God. Rather, I now see that the Christian tradition—including its claims about Jesus—is not something to be believed, but something to be lived in. I see that Bible and the tradition as "icons," mediators of the sacred. The point is not to believe them, but to be in relationship to that which they mediate: God, the Spirit, the sacred. My own journey has thus been "beyond belief." It has moved from belief through doubt and disbelief to relationship. For me, to be a Christian is to be part of a community that tells these stories and sings these songs. It feels like home. Read More

This is a new concept for me - a middle ground between total acceptance of tradition and total rejection of it. I like it.

I took an online quiz called "Which theologian are you?" which concluded that I had views similar to Charles Finney. On the quiz, I strongly agreed with the following two statements:
1. Good preaching is more important than good theology.
2. The best way of expressing our love and unity with God is by music.
I guess another to put this is that how my heart feels is at least as important as what my head thinks when it comes to participating in a church.


Mystical Seeker said...

Borg talks about three phases of belief, starting with a kind of naive faith, moving on to skepticism, and finally integrating the previous two into what he calls "naive skepticism."

I think Borg makes a lot of sense when he talks about faith not being the mere assent of a set of belief propositions, but a commitment to how one lives one's life.

Philip said...

Yes. I like Borg a lot.

Thanks for posting over here, mystical. As you can see, you are the first!

Having the right beliefs, in an intelectual sense, seems to have little value in itself. However, there are spiritual truths such as 'love your neighbor as yourself' that help us be happy, I think. This is true, I think, whether we believe it or not!

Frank said...

Hi Phillip,

Nice blog! I found you through Mystical Seeker's blog.

I like this statement by Borg. There is so much more to organized religion than simple belief in statements and following simple rules.

There are lots of people thoughout history who would try to boil it all down to simple statements, but there is also an equally strong tradition supporting other approaches.

Models of the Church by Avery Dulles is a brilliant book that really opened my eys to this. So many people reject religion because they can't follow the rules or accept certain beliefs, but part of the problem is that they have a limited model of what church is about and are not open to other approaches.

Philip said...

Thanks Frank. I am going to look into the Dulles book you mention. I am about to finish Borg's "Jesus". I had visited your pages in the past, so I am very glad to hear from you. Best wishes!