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This I Believe

This I Believe

 A little background: I was raised in the American South and steeped sternly in the Christian culture of that region. I was baptized, full submersion at around 13, at Confederate Ave. Baptist Church in downtown Atlanta. I have an undergraduate degree in religious studies with a focus on Eastern religion. I minored in fine art photography. A few years after coming out as a lesbian, I earned a Master of Divinity from Candler School of theology and completed a full unit of Clinical Pastoral Education at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. I have served progressive, online churches for over a decade. In 2017 my wife and I moved to The Netherlands where I feel freer, happier and healthier than I ever have in my life. My faith is flourishing anew in this secular, social democracy.

 

The Greatest Commandment is the scaffolding with which I’ve built much of my understanding.

Matthew 22:36-40 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

36 “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” 37 He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the greatest and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

 

My belief statement is incomplete and always in progress, but here it is.

 

God

I believe in a Creative Force that is beyond our mortal comprehension. This creative force is known by many people by many names; I prefer to speak of this Force as God. I believe that God is neither male nor female and is both male and female. I will often refer to God as Father God or Mother God, The Divine or just God. The familiarity of these terms is a way of connecting me to what is incomprehensibly beyond space and time in a way that makes sense to my mind that is bound by space and time. I believe we best understand God, our neighbors and selves largely through relationship. Trinitarian thinking often makes sense to me. Mystery is holy. Questions are holy.

I am heavily influenced by liberation/feminist/process theology and social gospel teachings from the mid-twentieth century.

 

Jesus

I believe that Jesus is an incarnation of God. I believe that Jesus is the pioneer and perfecter of The Way many call Christian. His teaching and acts, as we can possibly known them, are critical to understanding the nature of God. I believe the narratives about Jesus’ execution at the hands of the religious elite in collusion with the state have much to teach us about the nature of humanity. I believe narratives about his resurrection have much to teach us about the nature God.

 

Scripture

I believe that the Bible is a collection of writings recorded, collected and canonized by spiritually inspired, by finite humans living in specific cultures, in specific times, responding to specific circumstances and built with the utmost faith in God and their own limited understandings of the world. Through many forms of literature, people recorded their attempt to understand their relationship to God and other humans. The overarching narrative of the Bible speaks of a God who desires justice, love and mercy for all  of creation. I believe the Bible holds significant truths that transcend time and place. I do not believe that the Bible is the literal/factual/inerrant word of God. I believe we are called to examine the Bible with rigor, wisdom and patience.

I work to read Hebrew Scripture (the “old testament”) through the lens of the community that produced these texts and for whom these scriptures are still sacred.

I work to read “the new testament” through the lens of the Gospel and weighing the subsequent texts on the scales of love, justice and grace.

 

Humanity 

I believe humanity is good. I believe with free will given to us by our Creator, humanity makes bad choices that harm themselves and others. I believe each of us are created in the image of God. I believe we carry the divine spark within us. I believe we are the hands and feet of God.

 

Sin/Salvation

I believe that sin is a state of separation from self, others and God. Salvation is reconcilation with self, others and God.

 

Church

I believe the church is called to be active in the world on behalf of God. I believe church is a place to deepen our spirituality. I believe the primary purpose of the church is to cooperate with God and all of others in bending the moral arch of the universe toward justice for all of creation.

 

Sacraments

I believe sacraments of the church are rites that offer us ways to connect more deeply with God and other Christians. Baptism is a rite of reconciliation with God and community. The Eucharist is a rite of remembrance and connection.