I get this, or some variation of this question quite a bit. People want to be able to apply labels to us, and then use those labels to decide rather they like us or not. I despise labels. Sure they can serve a purpose, but generally speaking they do more harm than good. Statements of Faith, Articles of Faith, Doctrinal Stands, and so on and so on just aren't that important to me. My observation has been that dogma serves to divide never unite. Most of us simply cannot, or as is the case most of the time will not, consider the other side of the coin. We refuse to even acknowledge that the other guy may be correct. That is why I hesitate to post specifics about my feelings on doctrine, because some of you (who are otherwise really great people) would stop listening to anything I have to say. Which means that our project, the reason we are here in Kenya, could suffer.
That being said there are some issues I do not have a problem discussing. Take the prosperity message for example. I can say without a doubt that I think the prosperity message (the idea that God exists solely to make you wealthy, healthy, and powerful) is bogus. It simply is not true. Just take a look at Jesus, our God, and you will see a guy who was poor yet blessed by the Father. Why should it be any different for me?
Religion bothers me. That is religion defined as a set of rules, obligations, rituals, traditions, or anything else designed to please God or a man made system. The God I know, yes I claim to know Him, just is not that kind of guy. So I speak out against religion regularly. Here on the blog, conversations with people, and in meetings that I attend.
Equating the Bible with the Word of God bothers me as well. Or I could rephrase that as worshiping the book called the Bible. The Bible contains some of the words of God, and points us in the direction of Him. However it is still a human device. It was written by men (and possibly one or two women) on paper with ink. I do that every day, yet no one worships what I write, even when it is inspired by God. I consider scripture (the Bible) as an invaluable tool to know and understand my place in the Kingdom of God. Not deifying it actually helps me to maintain a healthy respect for the Bible.
Evangelism. I cannot whole heartedly embrace the idea that I have to convert anyone to my way of thinking. It just seems so not like Jesus to me. Sure I share my faith all the time. I speak up about what I feel and believe. I testify to the working of God in my life practically each and every day. However, the idea that Jesus is exclusive to me is just not right. I believe, and have seen in people's lives, that he reaches them differently than he reaches me. I feel that I should respect that and even consider what you believe to be true, even when it is at odds with what I believe. I have learned a great deal this way about God, and hope to learn more. I have more feelings about conversion, but am not yet comfortable with posting them on the blog. Perhaps later.
Well obviously I could go on and on. Seems that I don't have as much trouble talking about stuff as I claim to have. I am a follower of Jesus, not necessarily a Christian. However I have not completely rejected the Christian religion. I still believe it could be redeemed. There is much beauty in tradition, liturgy, and corporate worship. Yet I fear that religion is incompatible with Kingdom Life, and so I mostly avoid it now.
There is a God. Mankind has become separated from that God and cannot bring itself back to him on their own. Jesus brought us back to God. God's gift to mankind is eternal life.
That is what I believe. I am still working on the praxis of that faith. For now I express my worship to the Creator by serving his people here in Nakuru, Kenya.
P.S. Over the next few days we will post articles that are meant to help define who we are. So expect more I believes, I like, I do, or other such things in the next week or so.