Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thursday, March 4, 2010

More thoughts on my belief system

I majored in religion in college-it was one thing that was the same throughout. I changed all my other majors numerous times (enviromental science, women's studies, english, sociology, psychology, social services) but it was always the constant. I was working towards most likely going to master in it and become a professor, but family came first, and so I ended up switching gears a mere 18 hours from graduating-18 hours of crap, might I add, that was not revealed to me early on. "Yes, you have to take 18 more hours outside your major(s) area, even though you are double majoring and that would mean a bunch of meaningless crap, and when did college start to act like highschool? Aren't we supposed to be mostly focusing on our end goal, and well, core credits that are diversified just don't do enough even though they take up the first year and half of your college career."
Anyway, that background with some=serious street cred. With those in the kinds of churches my husband prefers=bad. They see theology as a bad thing. I hate to break it to them (them being those who attend, and run the places, most of whom have no education or training to be leading a congregation) but theology is why they all end up in the same building week to week. I think worshipping the theology is bad. The theology itself, though, not so much. I love it, personally. There is so much to learn from the inner workings of those great Christian who came before us. It was those minds who were able to decipher or interpret a bit of what we believe today. I think many Christians do not fully know why they believe what the believe as far as doctrine. The relationship with Christ comes first, absolutely. It is the most important part of the deal; one of the actual things He told us to do-Love God, then love everybody else, too. Just about everything else is taken either from the Old Testament, which would be God speaking through prophets, and is an important learning tool, but also more of a "history of where we came from that is important to learn from but most of the rules are necessarily for a bunch of gentile-descended Christians to have to follow" and from the New Testament, which either was Jesus or Paul speaking for the most part. The stuff Jesus said is absolute. The things Paul said are subject to human fallacy. The word of God, but how often do we mess up what God tells us? Paul could have made mistakes or misinterpretations. That is a whole other post, though.
What I am getting at, is that those who chide theologians, or tradition, or people who aren't all out be at church all the time folks need to take a little time to learn where what they do orginated. It wasn't the Bible. Yes, there were gatherings of believers, but they also had to take care of themselves. They had to work. Because of the persecution that was mounting, they weren't meeting nearly as frequently as some places do today. Am I saying that meeting frequently is a bad thing? Absolutely not. Not all of us are mandated to do so, though. It is not our place to judge others for what they think they need to do, like attend a certain church. There is no right or wrong church. The only thing we are required to do is have a relationship with God. That means on our own time-prayer and meditation alone with our Father. During that time we send up our love and admiration, we ask for forgiveness of ourselves and others, we send up our worries and ask for his help and healing. You can do that in church, but it isn't necessary. It is the only thing He asks from us. If we are pursuing that, all the other things we think we need to "do" (that, also is another post) will fall into place. If we love God, and everyone else, we will feel compelled when the time is right, to do what is necessary to take care of them. (Yet another post).
The main thought for today, to not get too long winded here, is that the relationship is what is important, and that we shouldn't discount the massive amount of energy that exists in the theology that helped form what we believe today. It is not all just in the Bible. Great thinkers have been hashing things out for thousands of years, and what they have to say is incredible, and important, and biblically founded. The men (mostly men) who wrote these things that so many church leaders are trained in were tortured with ideas and wanted to know more so they wrote it down. They talked with God, and often with each other, to try and figure out what on earth He wants from us. I don't think we will ever figure it all out, but I do think He enlightened certain figures to certain things to help us through our time here on earth, which, by the way, is a GIFT. He doesn't expect us to spend every waking hour in a building somewhere, when we were created for relationships. Jesus loved and worshipped Him by spending time with all sorts of different people. He broke bread with them (also known as having a meal). He wandered around making friends, feeding people, teaching them. He just walked the walk. I think we often forget to live like He did means LIVING. By living, not necessarily preaching (dude, He told stories-how awesome is that?), we set an example that makes people wonder what's up. That opens up doors for us to profess our faith, and from personal experience, makes more folks want we've got than coming off as constantly busy at church, or pushing what we believe too hard at those who don't yet understand why we do. Live the life, but live your life. It is a gift, and like a talent, should not be wasted. In all things, love and pray to Him. It is simple. The hard stuff should not be discounted though, and it might be interesting for some of you to take a walk through some of the excellent theology out there. Try St. Augustine's Enchiridion. Beautiful. In fact, I might have to get that one out again here soon. It is deep -they were both theologians and philosophers, but it helps to see where our belief system was built. What we believe and do now has changed greatly from the original NT believers, and is very deeply influenced by the writings of many great thinkers before us.

Note: Sorry if that came out more as ramblings than coherent thought. I just had to get it out there. It is an issue very, very dear to me.

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