Thursday, May 04, 2006

Statement of Faith

I subscribe to an e-mail newsletter from Emergent Village . They are usually very thought provoking, and this last one was especially thought provoking to me, so I thought I'd share a bit with you.

The topic of the newsletter was that this Emergent movement does not have a statement of faith, and that rattles some of the critics. Everyone should have a creed, right?

According to the newsletter, the idea of having a statement of faith is uncessary. It states:
Why is such a move unnecessary? Jesus did not have a "statement of faith." He called others into faithful relation to God through life in the Spirit. As with the prophets of the Hebrew Bible, he was not concerned primarily with whether individuals gave cognitive assent to abstract propositions but with calling persons into trustworthy community through embodied and concrete acts of faithfulness. The writers of the New Testament were not obsessed with finding a final set of propositions the assent to which marks off true believers. Paul, Luke and John all talked much more about the mission to which we should commit ourselves than they did about the propositions to which we should assent.

I always find it refreshing when people compare what we do in Christianity today with what Jesus did, because often, they are quite different. Jesus told people to go out into the world and make disciples; we bring them into our mega churches. Jesus made a radical statement about selling all that one has; we have to have lots of stuff. So is it really that surprising that there's a difference when it comes to having a statement of faith? I'd imagine that Jesus' statement of faith would be something like "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength...[and] your neighbor as yourself" (Mark 12:30, 31). Jesus didn't seem to be anywhere near as concerned with what people believed as he was with how they related to God and to each other.

Yet it seems that we are often so focused on making sure a person believes the "right" way, and there sometimes are a lot of apologetics to "prove" that a person's or organization's statement of faith is correct. I'm sure you may have seen them--long statements of "What We Believe" peppered with a handful of Bible verses after each statement. [Have you ever actually compared the verses to the statements to see if they match up? I have. Sometimes they are a big stretch and taken out of context].

The biggest problem that I see is that if one must subscribe to a statement of faith, then that person can feel very alone and left out if they disagree with any part of it. They may feel they have to keep quiet. They may feel that they are not a True Christian after all, or that people will think they are in Big Trouble with God.

It seems to me that we might have a lot more Christians if we were more encouraging in exploring and discussing different ideas rather than having them set in a creed.

No comments: