On this blog, I’ve always tried to be completely honest about matters of faith and non-faith, my sometimes agnosticism, and other personal matters. I’ve wanted to show that despite how some Christians act in public and despite how some who have no faith act, there can still exist a middle ground in which these matters are by no means settled. I am uncertain most of the time about the state of my heart when it comes to matters of faith. There has never been a time, since my conversion in 1983, when I did not think about God, Jesus, or the church or when I didn’t think about matters of philosophy and how we all fit into the various views out there. That’s just me and the way I’m wired. You see, I see nothing wrong in asking the hard questions, in learning the hard answers, or dispensing with the nonsensical.
I’ve often thought I need a therapist to help me sort out all the conflicts I deal with on a daily basis, but who has the money or the time? Blogging seems cheaper, if not completely free of the wisdom of inflicting my weirdness on the public at large. Blogging is also missing sometimes that healthy give-and-take between people and also that naked honesty wherein only truth-telling can thrive. So yeah, there are those shortcomings. But, there are always weirder people than me out there in blog-land, so I don’t fret most of the time. Who was is that said “Don’t go looking for a spiritual director, one will find you when the time is right.” Well, the time is now, whoever’s out there willing to take me on! You can show yourself cause I really, really could use one. In the meantime, I just keep on inflicting it upon you whether you like it or not. I want you all to know that there are people who have faith out there, just maybe not in the things you may have faith in. There are those out there (me included) who believe that Jesus is the Eternal Christ and who came to spread the Love (kingdom) of God to the ends of the earth and that, mostly, men have severely botched the job. They’ve set up rules and conditions to keep people away from God’s love. I call them “the gatekeepers.”
So, in this mood today, I ran across something at explorefaith.org that got me thinking about how simple Jesus’ message really is. Someone wrote to the website and asked, “What is the heart of Christianity?” Dr. Marcus Borg and the Rev. Anne Robertson responded (the words in bold are their emphases):
For me, the heart of Christianity—Christian fundamentals for our time—would be, first, the reality of God. Without a robust affirmation of the reality of God, Christianity makes little important sense.
Secondly, the centrality of the Bible. To be Christian is to be in a continuing, ongoing conversation with our sacred scriptures.
Thirdly is the utter centrality of Jesus. Christians are people who find the decisive revelation of God in Jesus, in a person. That means when Jesus and the Bible [contradict] each other, Jesus trumps the Bible.
The fourth fundamental is that a relationship with God is known in Jesus. Christianity is not primarily about believing; a relationship involves a much deeper part of ourselves than simply the content of our minds.
The fifth fundamental is a concern for the transformation of ourselves and of society. I’m convinced that the Bible from beginning to end is both personal and political, concerned with both spiritual matters and social matters, and the life of Christian faithfulness involves both of those. —Dr. Marcus Borg
To me, the absolute center of Christianity is embodied love. In my reading of the Bible and in my experience, that’s it…hook, line, and sinker. In Genesis it is God’s love embodied in Creation, with every part dependent on every other part for perfect function. When human beings couldn’t seem to keep their part of the harmony going, God embodied love more specifically in human form, in the person of Jesus. Jesus thus becomes both the embodiment and the revelation of God’s love.
Christians consider themselves to be the Body of Christ…those who try to continue to embody God’s love in and for the world. If it is not done in love, it is a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. It matters even more than faith, Paul says. When Jesus is asked in Luke 10 what must be done to inherit eternal life, the answer is to love. Love is at the center of Creation, because God is love. Embodied love is at the heart of Christianity because that’s who Jesus is. —The Rev. Anne Robertson
I would agree with both of their statements except for one thing. In Borg’s statement I would put Jesus second and emphasize the point: “…when Jesus and the Bible [contradict] each other, Jesus trumps the Bible.”
Of course, many will wonder how we can know that what Jesus said are really his words and not the newly forming church hierarchy’s own words inserted into early documents. Well, we can’t know that for sure, but what we can know is that Jesus’ overall life and mission are visible for all to see in the words that are there. He brought a message of inclusion for all those that humans deem undesirable. The New Testament is full of examples where he welcomes those caught in sin or those ostracized from communities. And I believe it translates over to today. Those we wish to exclude, he includes. Those we hate, he loves. There are no conditions. I would add to the above statements that the heart of Christianity SHOULD be: Love God (however that’s defined) with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength AND Love your neighbor (whoever that is) as you would love yourself. (Mark 12:28-31– Mark is the earliest and most reliable gospel tract).
Sadly, I don’t see too much of that love going on right now. I see more religion and rule-keeping more than love. If this makes me a deconvert from religion, then count me in. I am forgoing what passes for religion for true spirituality. Some people can’t seem to see the difference, but there is a huge difference. God does not reside inside church buildings. It is we who bring God to church and it is we who can take God back out of it again. God (however that is defined) dwells in the heart. Forgive me if I’ve not shown much of my heart lately. I’ll try to do better and thanks for being willing to be inflicted with my meanderings.