About two years ago I stopped believing in God. When people who know me now or knew me from before that time find that out, they have only one question: “What happened?”. This question still makes me cringe, because honestly I avoided it or danced around it for so long it seems that I can’t remember myself. The spiral down probably began when it dawned on me that instrumental music is not spoken against in the New Testament. It was after I acknowledged this that I realized that I can essentially twist the scriptures to say what I want. Accepting the fact that I had the knowledge and the power to twist scriptures made me bitter and doubtful. Doubtful that anything Holy could come from that and bitter towards those who not only twisted, but also taught me to twist the Bible.
Thankfully, I’ve moved out of that bitterness and accepted something that at one point, I thought would be impossible to accept: these people are doing their best. For most of them, nothing done was ever done out of malice or contempt…though I do have doubts about some. 🙂
Now that I’ve come back around to Christianity, in a way, people often want to know what exactly I believe, because it’s definitely not what I came from. This question is the other question that makes me cringe. Sure there’s the possibility that they will reject my beliefs (most do-I’ve got some crazy ones) and they might attack what I believe (or don’t believe). Most of all, the reason this question makes me cringe, I think is because it’s not simple. It can’t be listed in bullet points.
The conservative tradition that I come from have beliefs that are pretty easily bulleted…just browse some CoC websites. Growing up with this way of believing is complicated. It makes indoctrinating children and new converts easy (it’s like minimalism for evangelism). However, if God gives a member of those congregations a searching spirit, the fact that everyone else accepts this list as whole is frustrating. So now, when people ask me what I believe, deep in my heart I want to give them a list and let them read it and let it be firm enough to stand on it’s own…but it’s simply not.
Brian McLaren in his book A New Kind of Christian mentions how we are used to the analogy of our faith as a house built on a rock. And in the age of post-modernism, this is just simply no longer an applicable comparison. Instead of using a building to visualize our faith, perhaps we now need to accept the fact that we can adopt a more flexible image. A spiderweb, he offers, has more to offer in the way of a metaphor. A spiderweb has multiple grounding points-a light pole, a blade of grass, your desk, a windowsill. It has a foundation, multiple foundations in fact. Yet it has the amazing ability to be both grounded and flexible.
Though I’m still trying to figure out my grounding points, I now know that to answer to the question “What do you believe?” I can draw someone a spiderweb to explain it a little easier (this will perhaps ease the anxiety about my faith missing a list). There are lots of things that I have used to compile my faith, and it is a beautiful thing to accept that it may not look like anyone else’s but it’s still valid and important.