Over the past decade, I have made a lot of changes in what I believe about life and faith and how I evaluate truth claims and worldviews. Like so many others in similar situations, I changed my mind about essential matters when I found that, at the most crucial times in my life, my previously-cherished beliefs simply did not work for me; they promised far more than they delivered.
When I looked more deeply, I found that the superstructure of my belief system crumbled because the foundation on which it rested was riddled with cracks. In philosophical terms, my presuppositions were flawed, so the conclusions based on them turned out to be flawed as well. You don’t have to agree with my assessment here; I’m just putting it out there.
This I have noticed, whether the changes were religious or political, theoretical or practical: in every case, the movement was always in the same direction—from exclusive to inclusive; from walls to bridges; from a doctrinal and ideological precision that shut most people out to a “generous orthodoxy” that welcomes everybody in and leaves the “sorting” up to God. [Of this I am confident—God will not consign people to eternal damnation simply because they cannot or will not articulate a credo that conforms to a narrow evangelical formula.]
When you start with BELIEF, people invariably suffer if they dare to question the established canon of doctrine. When you start with PEOPLE, however, differences in particular beliefs only highlight the unifying power of love.
I devoted more than 50 years of my life to a system that values beliefs over people. When I concluded that I needed to change my views and embrace a new way of looking at truth and reality, the consequences were severe. I lost my job and my network of support. I watched my savings and my hope of a secure “retirement” evaporate. My insistence on standing by my conscience and the new convictions arising from it inflicted material and emotional hardship on my family, and that is a burden I bear every day.
Still, although my circumstances seem to go from bad to worse, my soul is at peace. I cannot and will not lament a change of heart and mind energized by the yearning to emulate Jesus—to see him more clearly, to love him more dearly, to follow him more nearly day by day.
Peace and all good to you and yours in the new year.