What I do is what I believe…
This post began nearly two years ago at the start of the Course in Christian Studies I recently completed. It was homework. I suppose I really should finish it.
The task: two columns. Left: things I really believe about God. Right: The implications for the way I live my life.
The problem is, when I look at the right hand column I wonder if I can even say I believe any of the most basic statements I thought I could make about God…
believing is the wrong word?
I believe what I write, or rather, by writing I learn to believe. But then I do not put much stock in “believing in God”. The grammar of “belief” invites a far too rationalistic account of what it means to be a Christian. “Belief” implies propositions about which you get to make up your mind before you know the work they are meant to do. Does that mean I do not believe in God? Of course not, but I am far more interested in what a declaration of belief entails for how I live my life.
Stanley Hauerwas, Hannah’s Child (px)
This is why a similar exercise a few weeks ago in another context frustrated me. It only had a left-hand column.
Only WordPress doesn’t render columns, so left-hand is in bold, right-hand in roman.
I believe God is good
I thought this was a really straightforward thing to say. But then… If I really believed God was good, would I live this way? Would I be so fearful and timid? If I thought God was good and loving and wanted the best for me, would I be so easily depressed, swung and kicked from pillar to post… so let’s start somewhere else.
I believe God is creator
The world/universe has a shaping presence with whom I can connect. It doesn’t matter how God created in the beginning, I am tasked to co-create with God, to be a part of God’s ongoing creative activity – beautifying the world, making it, looking at it with love, and declaring it good.
I believe God is beyond male and female
So can I dare to call ‘him’ “Father”? But can I comfortably call ‘her’ “mother” – given my culture, background, and, not least, the Bible? I didn’t often talk deeply with my own father. How can I address God? What does it mean to call God ‘names’?
I believe God is almighty but he might as well not be
What does ‘almighty’ mean when God doesn’t seem to have power over anything material that matters to human beings? Or, if God is so self-restrained, is there a vast untapped power for me to access?
I believe there is god beyond my conception of God
It means I can’t be certain of what I “believe”, at least not 100% (but then if I were, it wouldn’t be “faith” would it?), at least not enough to force it down others’ throats, or to black-and-white stamp it over other Christians.
Does it also mean I am permanently afraid to nail my colours to any mast – and is that a good thing or a bad thing?
I believe Jesus is someone to be trusted
This was my answer at Skylight Lounge to “Who do you say I am?” But what does this mean in everyday life?