Philip Clayton suggests in Transforming Christian Theology for Church and Society that there are seven core theological questions that Christians should seek to wrestle with, using Scripture, Tradition, Experience, and Reason as the foundation for this attempt. I offered my response in an earlier posting. One of my church members, an elder in the congregation, and one who has a gifting and calling in teaching at the church, wrote out his own. He did this as part of our Theology 101 class. I asked him if I could share it, and he agreed. Since Tripp Fuller suggested this might be a good meme, I'm encouraging others to take this up -- on Facebook or on a blog, or wherever you think appropriate. You could add it to my comments section. Here then is John McCauslin's response to the set of questions.
December 10, 2009
Faith Statement of John McCauslin
I believe that God is the "hands-on" creator of the universe, and of all of that I can conceive. I believe that while God is ineffable, God has chosen to live in a loving relationship with humanity. To make this possible God has engaged in self-disclosure through nature, scripture, prophets, and through the incarnation in Jesus of Nazareth. I do not believe that God is unchangeable nor do I believe it is helpful to think of God as perfect in the ways that are traditionally taught. While God is transcendent, God is also very present. God is not immune to change, including change in the form of growth, pain, and grief. God celebrates with, and grieves with, humanity. I believe also that God answers prayers.
2. Jesus the Christ
I believe that Jesus of Nazareth was and is the incarnation of God on earth. Humans can only know God through means of God's acts of self-disclosure, including through the very personal disclosure that was made in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. In Jesus, God refocused our attention on the important details of God's prior self-disclosures. Moreover, in the life and death of Jesus, God directly challenged human violence by allowing his own horrendous execution, and by taking on the wounds of the world. In so doing he modeled the most appropriate response to violence: forgiveness. Finally, in the resurrection of Jesus the Christ God delivered a message of hope to the world.
3. Holy Spirit
I believe the Holy Spirit is the manifestation of God in our lives. Through the Holy Spirit God communicates the divine will to humanity. The form of this communion is the grace filled indwelling of the Spirit within each human.
I believe that God created the whole of humanity and each human being as a relational partner. Humans, having been made in the image and likeness of God, are children of God, not as adopted children but are natural and genetic children of the Divine. God relates to his children with loving kindness, and the compassion only a parent can have for a child from her very own womb. Humans are granted the grace of relationship with each other and with the Divine. And while God has configured humans to yearn for a relationship with God, God invites, but does not compel, humans to respond to God's extravagant love with faith-filled trust. Sin generally is the failure to love God or God's creation. Sin manifests itself most distinctly in acts of violence. I do not believe that God directly punishes sin, but that sin ultimately carries its own adverse consequences.
I believe that salvation is offered in the here and now to each and every human being through the immediate availability of kingdom living. Jesus said the Kingdom is here, in the person of himself, and he invites us to follow him in accepting the yoke of the kingdom. I believe that loving kindness, compassion, and forgiveness are the hallmarks of kingdom living, and to the extent we undertake these manifestations of the kingdom, we bring about the kingdom in our world.
I believe that the purposes of the Church include the provision of a mechanism for communal worship of God, as well as the preservation and communication from generation to generation of the self-disclosures of God. I believe that the church, when it operates as it is intended, is a force for reconciliation between God and humans, and between humans and humans. The church consists of the universal priesthood of all believers, and is led by those whom the believers, led by the Holy Spirit, acknowledge as empowered by God to the role of shepherd. While God has envisioned the unity of all believers, God communes with each believer in a language, and in a culturally meaningful context, meaning that there is no one single denomination which is favored by God, but each denomination and each religious tradition, to the extent that it seeks to accomplish its divinely inspired purposes of compassion and reconciliation, reflects the genuine will and work of God in the world.
7. Last Things
I believe that we all leave this world bearing the wounds of our earthy relationships, but that God has prepared a place of healing for us to enter into. Beyond that, I believe that "Last Things" are in the hands of God, and efforts to discern the last things are a distraction from the work which God has for us in the here and now. I believe that focus on last things is misguided, egotistical, and unhealthy. I believe that we are called to trust in the Lord that in the end God's will for each of God's children will be accomplished.