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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Statement of Faith

I believe that God is apparent.

There is a goodness in the universe that manifests itself in our feelings of fulfillment when we help one another and love one another and view the wonder of creation. It is the highest aim of humans to search to align themselves with this goodness.

Also, God describes the greater whole in which we all participate. By recognizing this wholeness we realize that nothing is truly good for us that is not also good for others.

God is always with us, and in a very literal sense, we are a part of God. But, God is more than us.

I believe the Bible is a record of God's people struggling to stop missing the mark and to live a good life.

The Bible was written over thousands of years by many people. It is a complicated and diverse work. Nonetheless, it provides vital clues into how to behave and how to understand our role in the universe.

I believe that Jesus of Nazareth is an individual of unmatched significance to my life.

Jesus Christ had a profound understanding of God's desire for us. He recognized that any portion of religion that failed to serve the observer should be discarded. At the same time, he challenged adherents to go behind technical compliance with the law.

More than this, Jesus emanated compassion and acceptance in a way that transformed all those who followed him. He could not be defeated in his quest to transform God's people, even in his execution.

Jesus of Nazareth, who lived two millenia ago, saved me from a life of mundane existence. He provided me with a path to find greater meaning and purpose. This is a confounding truth. And it is why I claim that Jesus Christ is my personal savior and son of the living God.

I believe that the Church must continually evolve to connect people to the truth of God.

The Christian Church is not stagnant. When the world was ruled by kings, the church at first resisted it, but then adopted a hierarchy as its polity. When democracy began to spread again, parts of the church adapted to that. When society was obsessed with substance, so was the church. As society is ruled by rational thought, so shall the chruch.

None of this is an indictment of the church. To the contrary, the church's adaptability is an asset that allows it to continue to evolve and point its followers to greater truth.

The Church is a vehicle of human construction. As such, it can fail in its mission, as it has many times. Indeed, when it fails, people fall away and the church must evolve or die.

Other "churches" from other cultures similarly point people to the truth. If I were born in India, I would still need to find the highest truths, but Hinduism would have to lead me.

One can find truth without adherence to a religion. Particularly in matters such as learning kindness and empathy, as well as behavioral derivatives. However, I believe achieving a greater understanding of our world alone, without reference to greater leaders in this area would be as difficult as deriving Newton's laws of motion without Newton.

Each of these should really read, "I now believe . . ." because I continue to search often to better understand myself and my world.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Father Daughter Time

After church, my nine-and-a-half-year-old daughter asked me, “How do we know that God is real?” She was concerned that the Bible was written so long ago and that they probably only started off with a few copies and it was probably written in Hebrew, so how could be know that God is real?

I mentioned briefly that the Bible wasn’t written all at once and that the whole Bible wasn’t written in Hebrew, but I didn’t think that was the source of her questioning. I was right.

I told her I could think of three ways of knowing that God is real. (BTW, her formulation was interesting and clearly distinguished her from her brother who stated, “God and the Bible and all of that is a bunch of crap.”) First, some people know that God is real because they learned it from their families. Then we talked about how people used to learn everything from their families, like which mushrooms to eat, when to water the crops, and how to hunt. We decided that used to be more convincing than it is know.

Second, some people know God is real because they know that everything in the Bible is true and the Bible tells of God. She giggled at this one. “How do you know the Bible is true?” I agreed it wasn’t very convincing to me.

Then I said we needed to ask why we believe the car is real. We talked about how we perceive things for a while. At one point she said, “Well, I know that I am real.” We talked a little Descartes. Then I asked her if love was real. She decided it was, even though we cannot see, taste, hear, touch or smell love.

So, the third reason to know that God is real is to perceive God. I told her that when I was underway in the presence of the vast ocean I felt God’s presence. I explained that the first time I held her in my arms I could feel God. I told her when I preached and when I prayed and when I served people at Paz de Cristo I felt God.

She asked, “What if you have never felt God?” I told her that I guessed she would have to rely on the first reason, namely that her family knew that God exists. I suggested that maybe it would be sort of a tentative belief like she believes that others things are real because we’ve told her so.

Kids are cool.