On Wednesday nights starting September 6th, I invite you to join me at Pioneer Church to engage in faith formation. I am quite deliberately calling it faith formation, not Bible study.
I am amazed at how much ideas about faith have changed since early Christianity. For so many Christians faith has become a set of propositions that one should accept. Believing a proposition even when it defies logic is deemed to be a greater faith. But those propositions change.
There will always be mysteries – things we know are true even when we cannot explain them and they seem to defy logical explanation. Nevertheless, accepting mysteries is not the same as mandating the acceptance of mysteries that are made up, which should not be a requirement.
In my way of thinking, faith includes two parts: trust and vision. When we say we have faith in someone, we are saying that we trust them to be able to do something. When we talk about faith in God, it needs to be trusting that God is love. Some may also trust that God is a fierce judge, but that is not the faith in God that I have.
Faith also needs to include a vision of what could be, especially concerning what human relationships could be. Historically, this vision in Christianity has changed. At one time the future vision involved casting off the oppressive yoke of the Roman Empire. At other times, it involved preserving the divine right of kings as long as those kings were good Christian kings. This vision tragically supported the ideas of absolute authority of clergy, racial (European) superiority, male dominance and absolute conformation to gender roles. None of these visions are acceptable for me.
The basic question shaping my faith formation is this: If unconditional love is real, what would the world look like if we could all live into that reality? As human beings, we will not agree totally on what that looks like, nor will we be able to live into it perfectly, but clarifying the vision will help us to make a better future together.