I have come to perceive that a christian’s sense of truth is only seeded by what is undeniably from Scripture. The kernel of truth that actually promotes faith, is often encumbered with—what I might risk calling—chaff, the chaff of ideas we wish the Bible expounded, but, alas, does not [not clearly, not undeniably, not irrefutably and not indisputably].
Truth is seeded by what is written in the Word of God but overwhelmingly dependent on a trust in the God of the Word. Not everything we desire to know is knowable, at least not yet in this life—about heaven and hell or why Jesus had to die, to name a few.
We have, with denominational approval, embellished the Biblical account with those reasonable answers our many questions have required. Logic has played a great part in our sought after understanding of Calvary’s story, clothed now by this church or that church, in mystical phrases [as: weak or strong faith, sacramental, anointed words, rapture], words from other languages [like propitiation, the persona of Christ, much Latin and Greek] and invented terms [like atonement, liminality, inclusion, original sin, “the Fall”]. We are more philosopher than theologian since so much of belief has little to do with a study of God through His Word and more the formulating of our desired creed.
There is clearly a center to Truth, a Christ-centric Scriptural base, as it were, that is the core enlightenment of true faith, that speaks of a bona fide relationship with the Savior of which Paul spoke:
For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. – Romans 10:10
God in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ, died a natural death to rescue us from the trappings of a spiritual death is the clear theme of the Biblical narrative, and together with the account of His resurrection, we have been told what God wants told. We accept it simply by faith or, as Jesus said just before His journey to Golgotha,
You believe in God; believe in me. – John 14:1
But we ask for more. We need to understand how church ritual should represent this truth, how faith should be expressed. We wonder what part hope plays, what can we expect from God. Does our faith depend at all on what we do or don’t do? And how do we “follow” Jesus?
We may not have created an image like paganism to worship, but have we created a god after our own thoughts and interests? Have we confused our own longings with God’s—perhaps, because we have not been in communion with Him enough to know the difference. As Dorothy Sayers wrote, “The question ‘What think ye of Christ?’ lands the average man at once in the very knottiest kind of dogmatic riddle.”
Justification as a Biblical term ends bifurcated into what God promises and what He is actually perfecting in us. Water Baptism and Communion are given varying weights of importance and value depending on how great a role each plays in what makes us christian. “Giving” when it is absent or too little can amount to a spiritual crime. Sin, in general, becomes a useful idea to persuade christians to cooperate with pastoral vision.
Some of what we believe as consistent and biblical exemplifies a cognitive dissonance which is conveniently overlooked because no one challenges what gives them a personal sense of spirituality even if it does not represent what is written in God’s Word. And the LGBTQ+ community think it hypocritical of the church to condone divorce as a means to honoring monogamy while marginalizing their spiritual needs—and they might be on to something!
There is nothing wrong with ‘creed’ or “denominationalism’ or ‘private faith’ if it represents a hunger after righteousness, a longing to get closer to the God we love, a heart after the Savior that simply keeps us “pressing in.” All the while, our faith is alive and well … and that is what counts! But my understanding of some Bible verse might not be yours!
So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves. – Romans 14:22
There is only one footnote: Allow other believers the same privilege. Be like Paul “become all things to all men that God might use you to win them to Christ” [1 Corinthians 9:22] … or to get closer to Him. Don’t let your religion get in the way of your relationships with our Lord and others. And as cryptic as this sounds, I think you know what I mean!
[Sorry for being so long-winded!]