Tuesday, July 25, 2006

My Creed

Ever since my interest in Christianity began to grow (I seem now to recall that it began the year my twins were born - 1999) I've found that I cannot join a church. The reason, simply put, is that I know of no church where I'd find myself in complete agreement on all doctrinal matters with other members. Those brave few who've read more than a few of my posts know something of the objections I raise to Christian doctrine, both Catholic and Protestant.

Last night I had a minor epiphany. I realized that I was wrong about this. My lack of agreement should not serve as an impediment to my conversion. There is much in Christianity that I accept. Perhaps that makes me a Christian. Perhaps I should simply pick a church with whose members I am in agreement on a number of fundamental issues, and join it.

What are those issues that I think important? For what should I look in a church? My answer is My Creed. (My Creed is subject to change without prior notification. The author of My Creed does not claim he has certain knowledge of any of its constituent propositions. Rather he claims only that they now seem plausible to him.)

My Creed

The world revealed to the senses is not the whole of the world. The self revealed to the senses is not the whole of the self. The world did not come to be from nothing. Rather it had a cause that stands outside it. The cause is single, not multiple. The cause is God. The self did not come from nothing. It did not come from blind physical processes unwatched and not chosen. Rather the self was made by another and greater self. It was made by God. God wishes that we love both him and one another for eternity. But in our present state this is impossible. We live in a state of spiritual infancy, and our purpose in this life and in the life after is to learn to love perfectly. All are immortal. All will fulfill their purpose. The opportunity for spiritual growth does not end when we die. Rather it persists for so long as we fall short of perfection. Perhaps I will be perfected in this life. Perhaps my perfection will require the life-age of the universe. But no matter how long it takes, it will happen. Christ was perfect love made flesh. He came not to pay a price, but rather to evince love, give hope, and form a body of followers in which love might grow. Scripture is a human record of God's relation to the world of his creation and as such is subject to the very errors that plague all human work. Scripture is not inerrant. Scripture answers in us a felt need for guidance in our moral quest. We know that its ethic of love answers to our most fundamental need. Its sole authority rests in this.


I'd be curious if anyone has a suggestion about a denomination in which someone such as me - someone who believes only My Creed and no more - might be welcome.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Why do you need to join a denomination? Why not simply walk your own path? It seems to me that you're already doing that anyway by devising your own creed, which, moreover, contains much in it that is decidedly antithetical to all of the common flavors of Christianity.

I have noticed that creed shoppers are most at home among Protestantism, especially of the evangelical variety. It is likely that you could find a group of such people who are liberal enough to accept you, but it is doubtful that you would derive much benefit from their company. Evangelical churchgoers do not tend to be very intelligent. But you do not really seem to be shopping for a creed: you have made up your own mind about Christianity, and now you are looking for others like yourself.

But it is a mistake, I think, to look for such people at church. Churches are composed mostly of people who give no thought to why they are there. For whatever reason, they are just going along for the ride. The remaining zealous minority have felt the aporetic twinge in one way or another, but they are not inspired thereby to embark on the search for truth. Instead, they seek only to escape from the discomfort of their doubt by extinguishing it with whatever dogmatic creed they can find lying near at hand, which for most Americans is Christianity.

Furthermore, it is rather shallow to choose a church merely because you like its doctrinal positions. In what sense could that be considered a conversion? What you are really seeking for is affirmation, and it is usually a very bad idea look for that in the actions and beliefs of other people.

-Timothy

Franklin Mason said...

Why do I need to join? I don't know that I need to, but I'd like to. I enjoy the company of like-minded people; and perhaps some would have something to teach me. I believe that moral progress cannot be achieved in isolation. For that, community is necesssary.

I'm quite convinced that some congretations have a quite well-educated, intelligent membership. They tend to center around universities, schools of theology and schools of divinity. Religion need not be a reality-dodge, and for some it is not.

It seems to me that, though My Creed is, as you say, antithetical to much of contemporary Christiantity, it is not antithetical to it all. It is of course quite strongly liberal in flavor, and there are still liberal churches about.

You're right about my use of 'convert' and 'conversion'. It was ill-chosen. I meant simply 'join'. But this, as you've guessed, is the root of my problem. I'm really quite extraordinarily stubborn intellectually. I simply will not substitute the judgment of another for my own; unless I can come to see the sense in what you say, I will not say it myself.

I don't simply want affirmation. I don't really care about that - I'm not so shaky in My Creed that I must seek for the intellectual support of others. What I want is company. And moral correction. And a hand-up when I'm down.

Anonymous said...

Here are some links that I believe will be interested

C Grace said...

Franklin,

I will pray for you in finding a good church. Outside the Catholic church I think that this- (Perhaps I should simply pick a church with whose members I am in agreement on a number of fundamental issues, and join it.) is the best that most of us do.

I think that in your heart you see the spiritual reality of Christ and love Him but are not ready to submit to Him in faith. Most conservatives come from the opposite direction. We intellectually accept Christ in faith, but it takes us a long time to apprehend Him in love. Having doctrine, while being babies in love, makes immature conservatives rather harsh toward those whose doctrines are outside the norm. The answer I think is not to tear down their doctrine but teach them to love.

I think the idea of faith - believing what we cannot know, submitting intellectually to a truth beyond reason will be a hard one for you. Spiritual Truth cannot be seen unless it is first believed in faith, just as Love can only be apprehended as we give up love of self.

God bless you on your quest. If you are willing to wrestle with issues of faith, I would suggest Augustine, Bonaventure, Anselm and Aquinas. Trust God's Wisdom, not just His Love. When we are willing He can lead us into both a Love stronger and more permanent then human affection and to a Truth that can be apprehended by the spirit but which is too great to be grasped by the human mind.

C Grace said...

PS I have a post on inerrancy here.

It might interest you.

Anonymous said...

Very pretty site! Keep working. thnx!
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