As part of some prolegomena I’ve been doing lately, which has included exploring my theological journey and influences, and some of the ways I’ve changed over the course of this blog, I thought it would be helpful to summarize the basic theological affirmations or assumptions that underpin the thought articulated here as a place for new visitors to start. The text below will appear on a welcome page, but I thought I’d share it with you readers first.
Welcome to my blog. This is a place where I explore Christian faith by engaging with a variety of ideas and lenses. Some times these are from Christianity’s own internal resources, such as the Scriptures, Creeds, and the writings of the Church Fathers, Mystics, and Saints of every age and place. At other times, I examine, sometimes critically, the Christian tradition by engaging with external ideas, such as positive psychology, Integral thought, Jungian psychology, and Indigenous Resurgence.
If you’d like to know more about me and my influences, please see these two posts: Where I’ve Been and Where I Am.
If you’d like to know more about what I believe, this post will at least be a good beginning.
- God is at the centre of all things, both wholly transcendent and other and wholly immanent, “everywhere present and filling all things,” as the ancient Christian prayer says. God is a great mystery, known only in God’s self-revelation, and even then only in symbol and mystery.
- We can know God through a variety of ways, including Scriptures, tradition, visions and dreams, and contemplating the natural world, through our own experiences of it and the understandings of science and the social sciences. But whatever we say about God we must be willing to unsay since our best words and ideas can never adequately capture the nature of an infinite God.
- God has been revealed as Father — the Source of all things; as Word — the Wisdom behind all things; and Holy Spirit — the life-giving and empowering force in and through all things.
- God created all things out of love. The world was created with God’s goodness and love at the heart of things; and God’s desire for the world was and is for it to be filled with shalom, the peace of God that is not the absence of conflict but the presence of healthy and whole relationships. Living in ways that promote such relationships is what the Scriptures call “faith.”
- God created humanity with a unique vocation to bear God’s image and likeness in the world and tend to the needs of our fellow creatures.
- But humanity has broken faith. We call this broken faith “sin” and it has tainted God’s good creation and all of the relationships within it, making the peace to which we are called and for which we were created an impossible dream. We can do right, we can keep faith, but sin has stacked the deck against us. Faith is always an uphill climb.
- God scattered the nations to every place on the Earth, to limit the reach of sin, and to encourage each to learn how to live well where they settled. Over time, every nation developed its own language, culture, and ways of understanding God. While God was with all of the nations of the world, God chose one, called Israel, or ‘He who wrestles with God’, to carry the divine presence and witness in a special way. Through times of remembering God’s ways and times of forgetting, through times of national success and times of foreign oppression, from experiences of ‘home’ and experiences of exile and diaspora, they have continued to wrestle with God and remain to this day as a witness to God’s faithfulness.
- In the fullness of time, the Word of God became incarnate in the man Jesus of Nazareth, who is the fullest revelation of the heart and wisdom of God. The story of Jesus reveals God to be humble, self-giving, generative, gracious, forgiving, and most of all, to be love itself. But humanity again rejected God’s peace-making ways and Jesus was put to death by a conspiracy of politics and religion.
- But because Jesus kept faith in every way, God vindicated him by raising him from the dead and glorifying him at the Father’s side.
- God has sent the Holy Spirit to those who follow Jesus, to empower them to grow up into everything that he was and is, and to share in his resurrected life for the life of the world. This is the common vocation and challenge of all who call ourselves ‘Christian.’ Inasmuch as we do not succeed in living this out, we must examine ourselves and repent — see the world and our actions through God’s eyes, turn away from the ways we have broken faith, and commit ourselves to restoring faith.
- Faith is not a private matter between the individual and God, but by its very nature spills out into our every relationship — with God, with one another as fellow bearers of the image and likeness of God, and with the whole of creation.
- ‘The Church’ is the gathering of those committed to being faithful to Jesus’ way. It is called to be a community that embodies faith in its social interactions, in its governance, in its teaching, in its ceremonies (especially its liturgies and sacraments), and in its action in the world. Inasmuch as it fails to do this, it too collectively is called to repent.
- Because of faith-breaking sin, the full experience of God’s peace will always be beyond our reach in this world. We wait with hope and expectation for it to break through in a new way, whether in this life or the age to come.
To God, whose power working in us can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine, be glory, in the Church and in Christ Jesus, now and for ever. Amen.