I enjoy reading blogs. There are several that I follow regularly. And, from these, I chase down others. I love finding out what other people are thinking, and how they are thinking. I learn from them what is important outside of my little corner of the cosmos. (I also learn how much I don’t know about, well, most things.)
On one of these little excursions, I found the following: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/faithforward/2012/04/how-to-live-as-a-christian-without-having-to-believe-the-unbelievable/#comments.It was posted by a person named Jim Burklo. You can check out his cv @ http://www.jimburklo.com/.
Anyway, in this post Burklo presented much of what can be described as progressive theology. Much of this thought is also found in the emergent church. I’m not going to review the post. But, I do want to think about it for a minute.
He wrote that what is important about following Christ is, well, the actual ‘following’ part. We should be more concerned about living the love of Christ over against believing all of the doctrine, dogma, (and I might add ‘drama’), that has grown up with the the Church over 2,000 years. He wrote,
“It really isn’t important whether or not you take the Bible literally, or whether or not you believe all the creeds word-for-word. If they don’t make sense to you, don’t worry about them. Don’t let dogma and doctrine get in the way of practicing Love, who is God … But repeating creeds is not the price of admission into Christianity. Instead of caring whether the story of Jesus’ resurrection was a fact or a myth, let’s concern ourselves with things that matter. Let’s care about our neighbors without jobs or health insurance, face the resentment in our hearts that needs to be released, struggle with how vote and be activist citizens, and learn how to bring our careers in alignment with our highest values. Let’s gather in churches, soup kitchens, work-places, living rooms, and cafés to support each other in doing things that matter, and let go of old doctrines that don’t.”
I agree with him. There’s an old saying that states Christians are one of the few groups on this planet that regularly shoot their own wounded. We are, by and large, argumentative and spiteful. We stand on a plank and call it truth while the whole platform goes up in flames around us. And all the while, people die of starvation and thirst. They lose their homes, if they ever had one to begin with. They are raped, murdered, sold into slavery, oppressed and forgotten. Hey, folks…these are the ones Jesus came to save. Where are we?
But, there are some inconsistencies in Burklo’s presentation. He suggested that it is important to find a community of like-minded with whom to serve. It is important to practice spiritual disciplines and Bible study. Don’t these require some small seed of belief in something? Is not prayer a miracle of God’s grace?
By simply stating that we must work with the “spark of the divine that is in every one of us,” faith in what cannot be seen seems to be left out of the equation. If Jesus is not God, (part of orthodox doctrine), then why bother with the poor? They can fend for themselves in this survival of the fittest universe. If the invisible Ruach Elohim, the Spirit of God, is not brooding over and in the creation, then what ignites that spark of the divine within us? Why should we care for our neighbor? What difference does it make if Palestinians and Israelis blow each other up? Why should the rich not get richer?
I’m sorry, but I don’t put much faith in the human heart to do what’s good and just. I can, however, put my trust, and life, in the hands of the God of gods who alone is able to transform my heart of stone into one of flesh.