Last week a reader asked me about my “essential faith beliefs”. Some blogs and websites will have some sort of statement of faith as part of their site. When I began this blog, I thought about whether to do that or not. I decided not to- not because I don’t know what I believe, but because of what I hoped this blog would be and do.
I assume when churches, bloggers, and other religious groups post their statement of faith, they are doing that with good and honorable intentions. I assume they want to be clear about some very important ideas and concepts. They do not want their readers to be confused or mistaken about what they believe. Transparency has become a sort of buzz word these days, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a good thing. No tricks, no traps, no games. They are being as clear as they can be. There is value in doing that.
But I didn’t do that. Not because I’m trying to be tricky or play games but, in part, because of my response when I read statements of faith. It’s probably just me, but when I read a statement of faith on-line I feel like it sets boundaries – a fence – around the site. It seems to me to be a list of the acceptable views for our readers. Now again, I don’t think that is the author’s intention. But that is how I – right or wrong- read it.
It’s not that I am against statements of faith- I’ve written my share of them for various reasons. But I did not, and do not, want anyone to feel that they are not welcome here. I’m not so concerned with correct doctrine as I am with creating a place for thoughtful conversation. Since I don’t get a lot of comments here, I’m not sure I have been successful.
Having said all this. I do think it is a good idea for all of us to write a statement of faith from time to time. We ought to do it more than once, because our faith ought to grow and mature and change. I hope what I know about God and believe about God has grown and changed over the years.
The difficulty with writing a statement of faith is what to include and what to leave out. The Triune God would seem to be a given topic. But then what? Salvation? Evangelism? the role and purpose of the church? The Bible? Eschatology? If you are not careful pretty soon you’ve got your version of The Institutes of the Christian Religion.
Then there is the problem of language, do I use Christian shorthand? (aka jargon?) I already used quite a bit in the previous paragraph. On the one hand, its helpful not to have to explain every concept. One the other hand, when I write the word “salvation”, are you and I thinking about the same thing? Maybe not. If I write that I am a Christian in the reformed tradition, that’s true. But I don’t want you to put me in the same league as the “New Calvinists”. Please. Don’t.
So where do I begin with a statement of faith? With the Apostle’s Creed.
I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth:
And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord:
Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary:
Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried: He descended into hell:
The third day he rose again from the dead:
He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty:
From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead:
I believe in the Holy Ghost:
I believe in the holy catholic church: the communion of saints:
The forgiveness of sins:
The resurrection of the body:
And the life everlasting. Amen.
There are other things, many other things, I could say about what I believe, things about the Bible, the church, salvation, the nature of God, the work of Christ and on and on. But, for me, this is the place I start.
Although, it occurs to me that “God is love” may be all the statement of faith any of us need.
I’d like to know, what do you think?