This is my own, personal theology, and I have here set it down so that, upon reading the entries on this weblog, you may have explanations of things that might be said or established. Please know that
1.) These are my own views, and do not reflect the views of the Episcopal Church or the Anglican Communion.
2.) They are not meant to shock or offend any person, and should they offend you I suggest you leave. They are only an expression of my thoughts.
3.) Should you decide to comment on these views, know that chances are your comment will not be posted. I may take your comment into consideration, especially if it is a philisophical or historical disagreement. However, please do not vomit scripture at me, because I have heard many of those objections, and quite frankly do not care.
We may not know it, but faith is fundamentally the most important thing to all of us, whether we be religious or irreligious. We do not actually know anything unfortunately, we only have faith that many things are true. Fundamentally, we have no way of even knowing that we exist, because “to exist” involves the validation of another conscious entity, which we cannot know exists. Therefore, at the core of our existence is the faith that we are really even here to begin with. We also may count numbers, solve equations, observe phenomena, and record data, but all of these activities involve the use of our (flawed) senses and judgment, and we are forced only to have faith that our judgment and senses are correct. We may think that there is no possible way these judgments can be fooled, but we very often fall into well thought out scams or use virtual reality to alter our perceptions. Our senses can easily be fooled, and we have no choice but to accept what they say, having faith that what they say is right. I make this first point to let the Atheist who asserts “faith is irrational” know: to say that faith is irrational, is to say that we all of our knowledge is fundamentally irrational, because all of our knowledge is at its deepest level based on faith.
Of course, faith is not only trusting, it is feeling. To have faith is to feel that something is right, even when it does not entirely make sense. We feel that we exist, though we cannot know for sure. We feel that our senses are not lying to us when we make scientific discoveries, though we cannot know that we have not been deceived. Because we feel faith, it bridges the gap between what is empirical (observed) and what is rational (felt.) This bridge then leads to the five primary concepts that seem to exist meaninglessly.
1.) Meaning itself
The question of these things is not about natural selection or evolution. An argument certainly could be made that any of these could be beneficial evolutionary traits. However, the fundamental problem is why any of these things should exist. What is life, what is it to be living? We know that Darwinian evolution took over after that first cell in the primordial soup, but what was it that sparked that first cell? Furthermore, what is Consciousness, and who (or what) was the first being to be conscious? And why would this consciousness lead to morality, which clearly impedes biological progress? And what about Love, why do we feel this attraction? Love contains a natural, lustful component, but also something deeper to us mere humans. Why does it contain this component, and where does this component come from? Finally, the concept that encompasses all of these, what is meaning? Why does it exist? Some would say that it doesn’t exist, that it is only made up, but we clearly feel its presence. Though we may be quick, in this age of cars and planes and the internet to throw away basic human feelings as inconsequential, but as you have seen, all of our very knowledge is made up of faith, which is itself a feeling. Meaning is therefore important in some sense, but the sense it is important in remains a mystery.
To me, these things are too spectacular and too unnatural to have arisen purely by chance, and I do believe that these feelings (along with other personal events) are what make me FEEL that God exists. Notice that I said feel there, because as I stated before, faith is fundamentally a feeling. I do not know, nor do I think that God exists, I feel that He exists. If it is irrational to feel this way, so be it, because what we feel is what makes us human, not what we think.
More importantly however, comes the story of Genesis in the Bible. I have long ago decided that this story is not literally true, because to make it literally true immediately eliminates the important meaning from the story. Adam and Eve eat the fruit from the garden of Eden, which not only represents the suffering that our learning and knowledge causes, it also represents our human nature (which is the real definition of our “original sin.”) We are called, by God, to be better than animals. We are called to have morality and justice and all the intangible concepts that I had mentioned, and more importantly not only to feel them, but to be conscious that we feel them. Our “original sin” therefore is not about a distant relative eating a fruit, it is the fact that we are, fundamentally, animals called to be something better. We are animals however, neither good nor evil, but desperate to survive. What God gives us is not only how to simply go on existing, but how to exist happily, in communion with Him. Unfortunately, it is not our nature to pursue this route. We would much rather hang safe in our animal-level comfort zone, but were we to do that we would never be happy, only continue existing as all the other animals in the world do. Therefore, Baptism into our faith is not first and foremost about clearing away the nasty stain our great grandmother a million times left on our souls. It is about the admission that we are no longer animals, that we are humans dedicated to living above the animal life, in communion with the will of God.
However, it would take the sacrifice of God’s beloved and only begotten Son to show us the true love and lengths to which the Lord would go for us. God let His own beloved Son be nailed to a tree and left to die, and even in that hour would not forsake us. When Christ rose again three days later, whether literal or figurative, it was a new beginning for humanity, and it would jump start the evolution of morality. No longer would people be slaves to pagan gods who demanded blood and sacrifice. No longer would people face eternal damnation for breaking the most trivial law and having no way to be forgiven for sins. No longer would people be oppressed by the letter of the law, rather than the spirit. Through Jesus Christ we have all been saved, because only Jesus could have made us whole again, only Jesus could atone for our animal nature. This is the true importance of Christ’s sacrifice, that He showed us the truth of morality and that no matter how far gone we were, our beloved Father in heaven would not give up on us.
However, unfortunately in today’s age, Jesus is misunderstood, which is because of the belief that the Bible is infallible. The Bible cannot possibly be infallible however, for several reasons.
1.) The Bible was not even created until hundreds of years after Christ ascended into heaven. Modern Protestantism seems to assume that the Bible, in its full form, simply fell from Jesus’ pocket as he ascended into heaven. This is not the case. Early Christians would have had no knowledge of the Bible, and until the invention of the printing press, they would have had no way to read it.
2.) The Bible has been changed and altered many many times over the years, and books have been added and taken away, as well as new books found.
The Bible must be interpreted with historical context kept in mind, because only historical context can lead to true accuracy. Many times the Bible seems to speak definitively on a topic, but when we look at the historical context, the message becomes more mellow. Consider for example “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, no one comes to the Father except by Me.” This is a statement from the Gospel of John, which happens to be the most Gnostic and least historically reliable gospel account. Ignoring those two facts however, let us look at the statement in historical context. The implication seems to be that Jesus is the only way to get us to heaven. Well obviously Jesus isn’t going to just carry us there, we must have to act as he would act, which would be stereotypically described as “good.” The connection we can therefore make is that Jesus was the only way because there were no other “good” ways to take. Is this true? Well let’s see, what other options were there for the Isrealites around 35 AD?
1.) Pagan mystery religions (blood and sacrifice)
2.) Roman gods and goddesses (tribute, blood and sacrifice)
3.) Judaism (heavily influenced by the corruption of the Pharisees and other religious leaders)
4.) Christianity (love thy neighbor as thyself)
In historical context, the clear connection we can make is that there was no other “moral” option for people of the time to make. Any other choice was enslavement or corruption, returning to our animal roots, which was the process that Jesus intended to reverse. However, in today’s day and age, we have reached a marvelous time where the morals of Jesus have become common knowledge. No one questions whether adultery or unfair judgment or lying is wrong anymore, which is what Jesus intended by coming into this world in the first place.
But what about faith alone? Martin Luther, during the Protestant reformation, asserted that we are saved through faith in Jesus alone. Unfortunately however, Luther seems to have a definition of faith that the Atheists love to rip apart; the faith which is simply accepting something on an intellectual level without knowing whether it’s true or not. True faith runs deeper than this; it is something we feel in our bones to be true, even though we don’t know. This kind of faith bears a lot in common with love, but we all know that we cannot simply decide to be in love, we must truly feel it. However, Luther seems to think that people could simply wake up one morning and decide to feel this extremely powerful, true faith, the same way that we might be expected to simply wake up one morning and be in love. Because we cannot make ourselves feel this faith, it is irrational to believe that we will be immediately cast into hell for not feeling it. The only thing we can all do and be judged for is what Luther most seemed to hate; good works. If we behave as Jesus would have behaved, and if we agree to give up our animal instincts and hypocrisies to improve this world, we have the best chance of achieving salvation. Merely screaming at ourselves in our heads to insist that we have faith will never be enough. However, Christianity clearly presents the best way to salvation, and would suggest to be the only true way. Therefore, to convince people of this fact and “bring them into the light,” our course of action should not be philisophical argument or fire and brimstone “God talk,” it should be what I suggested above; calm kindness and hard work the way Christ would have intended. Presenting this image and living our Christian goodness will bring many more sheep to our flocks than simply screaming our sentiments and Bible verses at people ever will. We cannot know that God exists, that Jesus was His Son, or that we even exist. All we can know is that if, in whatever way we can, we always work to improve the world, repent for the wrongs we have done, and be the best people we can be, everything will work out ok.
The belief that everything works itself out is a fundamental tenet of all religions, and is especially important in Christianity. For our sakes, though we believe, were we to be surprised and find out that the Atheists were right, and there is no afterlife, we would simply no longer exist. Because we wouldn’t exist, we would not suffer, and thus we could be content to not exist, and the statement “everything works out” is true. However, to me it seems that we must always exist in some sense, because something cannot come from nothing. Indeed, I believe that nothing never existed. It fits therefore that our consciousness must somehow always exist, though this form may not be in traditional afterlife. However, we clearly did not come from nothing, se we clearly must not return to nothing. This is a comforting thought for all people.
My theology is a product of what I have seen and observed. As I grow on this Christian journey, I am sure it will continue to change and evolve. I can only offer the best I have to offer, and what I truly feel is right. Becuase I have realized one thing; to know or think does not really make me a human, I am only a human when I feel.