What do I believe? Well, it’s hard to summarize. I believe a lot of things, some of which may contradict each other. Nevertheless, my spiritual experiences have led me to affirm some beliefs as central to my faith and practice. Here, then, is my statement of faith, in the shortest form I can render it:
1.) I believe in one God, who is the Ultimate Reality and Creator of all that is, was, and will be. I believe that this God is perfect in wisdom, power, justice, mercy, and love, and is eternally present in all things. I believe that God can appear to us in an unlimited number of forms.
2.) I believe that every human being is created in the image of God, is endowed with God’s goodness, and is indwelt with God’s Spirit.
3.) I believe that while humanity is created good, we have free will, and we often forget our oneness with God and act from our lower, selfish nature. As a result, the world is wracked with suffering, violence, and oppression. I believe that God’s main mission is to liberate the world from this oppression, and reconcile all things to the Divine.
4.) I believe that there is nothing we can do to save ourselves from sin and suffering, and that we cannot “earn” God’s favor. It is only by the grace of God that we are saved (reconciled to God and one another).
5.) I believe that in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, God became flesh, fulfilling the prophecy of a Savior for Israel and the world. I believe that Jesus showed us the true meaning of Israel’s laws, as well as an example of humanity in its redeemed state. I believe that all of us can, by the work of the Holy Spirit, become incarnations of God just as Jesus is.
6). I believe that Jesus is our Savior, Healer, Liberator, and King. As our Savior, Jesus died and rose again, freeing us from the power of sin and death, and reconciling us to God. As our Healer, He “has borne our infirmities and carried our diseases.” As our Liberator, He has disarmed the ruling powers of this world, and continues to free us from injustice and oppression of every kind. As King, He is coming soon to judge the world, claim those who have trusted in Him, and establish His eternal reign upon this earth.
7). I believe that the Holy Spirit is alive and active in the world today, helping us to discern God’s will for our time. I further believe that the Spirit is an indwelling presence in every person, continually working to transform us into the image of Christ.
8). I believe that all of the spiritual gifts described in the New Testament are alive and operative in the world today, and that the Spirit “allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.”
9). I believe that the Bible is inspired by God, and is a progressive revelation of the nature, character, and will of God. I believe that when it is correctly interpreted, the Bible speaks with authority on all essential matters of Christian faith and practice. I believe that the life and teachings of Jesus, as found in the four gospel narratives, form the lens through which the rest of Scripture should be interpreted.
10). I believe in one holy and universal church, made up of all who profess faith in Jesus and seek to live according to His teachings. I believe that God has commissioned the church to feed the hungry, heal the sick, liberate the oppressed, and help reconcile all people to God and one another.
11). I believe that the use of lethal violence is in all cases antithetical to the gospel message, and must be abandoned in order to achieve the reconciliation God envisions.
12). I believe that it is the will of God that all people receive salvation, which includes liberation from sin and oppression, as well as a mystical union with God and all things – both here on this earth and in a spiritual realm beyond space and time. I believe that it is possible to reject God’s love, both now and into eternity. Nevertheless, I believe that God’s will shall prevail – and that a great day of restoration awaits the entire created order.
These 12 beliefs form the core of my faith as it currently stands (though it’s always, like anything else, a work in progress). What about you? Have you considered what you believe, and why? It’s a very valuable exercise, in my opinion.