Friday, December 11, 2009

Seven Core Core Christian Questions -- A Guest Credo (and meme)

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

1. God

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.
4. Humanity

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.

5. Salvation

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.

6. Church

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.


roy said...

thanks John

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing John. I'm truly inspired and warmed by your quest to understand our God and His creation.

This wasn't an easy task for me to put in my own words. Here are a few.

I’m glad we live in a society where blasphemy isn’t a crime. This is the value of our system.

(His = her too = it? “Them” just doesn’t feel right.) I Believe this is what I feel-

God’s nature and the potential of His church will never be bound by any of our imaginations.

I believe baptism is the sign and acknowledgment that we are forgiven for the sins of our lifetime. Not a magic trick.

Jesus is credited with this through his suffering and death, and this causes much anguish and confusion.

I feel that the role of Jesus was/ is for us to learn the true value of love and to learn to love God. His suffering and death was for us to know that God plays by his own rules in His universe. His plan was not to torture and kill His son. His plan was to let us do what we will, even if we are to cause him pain and suffering- so we could live and walk with Him. And yes, to forgive God Himself for putting us in the position to experience and witness the horrible atrocities, large and small, and even those falsely imagined, that result from a casual universe. The very gift of free will and of His still incomplete creation. Our neighbors’ free will, and our own causes much suffering and grief to each and everyone. Jesus teaches us that we shouldn’t curse God for this, but to join Him in Our lamentations. We share shoulders.

On the much more apparent side, His role was for us to recognize true love when we see it, and to remember to always praise this gift. We have the knowledge of love. What could be greater- even in death? I feel God is not bound by His space and His time. I also know that he doesn’t set us on a shelf like in a dollhouse. His Holy Spirit visits and “plays” with the dolls all the time. Sometimes we gets so close that our being physically ‘pokes” out of the house and we can feel his greatness when we least expect it.

I believe, as great thinkers of our day say, that time and space is relative and continuously bound together. We are stuck in, and with time. I believe God is not, but that we are more than a bad/ good memory/ longing to Him. We are all and we all will come together with Him outside time and space itself. When we are released from our schooling.

I trust we aren’t the only game in town. Our technology has widened our vision of His creation. Billions of stars are seen which turn out to be billions of billions of stars. Think of all God’s created neighbors we still get to meet. Getting to know and love them all may take an eternity. Hey! I guess we won’t be bored in the afterlife after all!

Anonymous said...

I also believe that non-belivers (as I was myself not so long ago) are seekers, often loving and loved by God. It is valuable to keep them in the conversation-

In low religious countries, such as Sweden, what happened was that threat was reduced (limited ethnic diversity and high social welfare). People didn't stop believing, but they did stop acting on their beliefs. As a result, their children didn't really believe them when they talked about god. Hence religion did not get passed on.

John said...

"His Holy Spirit visits and 'plays' with the dolls all the time."

Thanks for sharing.

By the way, my experience is that my faith is undergoing changes all the time and soon I will have to construct a new faith statement to reflect those changes.