The Faith can be summarized like this: God loves all folks just the same. God loves utterly, lavishly, wastefully. God forgives all people, always. We are all forgiven before we know we need forgiveness. God does not judge; we judge. God does not punish; we punish, we reject, we rage, we cast out. God is the Profligate Father in that parable we wrongly name The Parable of the Prodigal Son.
Scripture is the record of the Faith's experience of God. It reflects its time—many times, for it is many books written over many centuries. Scripture shows us the shortcomings in our insights into the nature of God, just as any theology still does today. And it calls us to travel on, responding to the love of God.
We call it the Christ-ian Faith because we trust that in the life and person of Jesus the Christ we see what God is like. Jesus calls us to follow him. That means he calls us to live in the way he lived, so that we will become like God, loving all folks just the same. He calls us to approach death in the way he did. That is, he calls us to learn that despite all our fears, which will likely never quite leave us—despite all our fears, death is not to be feared. Death is not the determining reality of Creation. God is greater; indeed, in the reality of God—Reality, if you like, death simply is not.
Our calling is not to have faith in order to be saved. The psychological foundations of that approach are death-denial, and it will leave us forever fearful, and living in a brittle faith. Our calling is to trust, to faith, by learning to live like Jesus. To make that our reason for living. Any other reason for living is a symptom of the idolatry from which we all suffer, and in which we all indulge. It is a shrinking away from the harsh realities, and often unbearable pain, of life; a shrinking and a fear for which God does not judge us.
Faith is to look at the horrors of life, to see its utter injustice, and to admit our complicity in its injustices. Faith is to be brave to say, even to rage, that God has much to answer for in making the world in the way that it is. Faith freely admits that, from its human perspective, God is without excuse. And Faith, nonetheless, seeks to live the best of its understanding of God, anyway: Like the Christ, it seeks to love all folks just the same. It knows this may hasten our death.
Something about this faith-full way of living, despite all our failures, seems to open us to the impossible. It seems to open us to healing by the transcendent God upon whose face one cannot look because the disjunct between our being—between God and us—is so incomprehensible it would destroy us. Yet God changes us!
Faith learns there is no hell, except perhaps for a temporary state of our own making. Faith begins to understand that both Heaven, and the more Hebraic idea of a restored or completed Creation, are both metaphors for something we glimpse but cannot possibly understand, for we are not yet complete. And Faith suspects these metaphors point to something greater and richer than themselves.
But Faith also understands it could be wrong. What it calls The Creation could be some inane, meaningless matter which just is. It trusts that, even then, to have loved all folks just the same—as much as it is able, and gentle on itself for its failings—Faith trusts that such a life is to be made well, even in absurdity and unknowing and meaninglessness. But Faith finds it cannot help but hope that life is more than this, for Faith finds its way of living opens its eyes to something deeper than a life shaped by probability and the movement of subatomic particles.
When Faith sings with Paul Kelly,
Through the lonesome valley
My rod and staff you'll bear
Fear not death's dark shadow
Come and meet me in the air…
it discovers in the words of the Psalm, and of Paul, that there is a truth. It knows it barely understands that truth. And it is content, for it has learned to trust God.
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