In his introduction to the book The Post-Evangelical, Dallas Willard notes: “Often we create ‘marks of group membership’ by making definitive statements from a particular interpretation of the Bible. So for example, issues such as whether you believe that women should be allowed to teach or whether Christ will return soon after the millennium begins may be used as tests for whether or not you believe the Bible – and that test, in turn, may be used as a test of whether you are a Christian. And so on. The question moves from ‘Where are you before God?’ to ‘Are you a member of our group?’. Once we make that move, we risk smothering Jesus in a heap of trivialities.”
In lieu of such a definitive statement, (what many of us hold to is found at this site), here is an attempt at describing our posture of faith:
A Common Table
As Willard noted, statements of faith can often be used as litmus tests to help someone determine whether people are ‘in’ or ‘out’, or whether or not this church ‘has it right’.
So rather than making a long list of what we do believe or don’t believe, we’d prefer to think of a table which gathers us together and invites us in, at which all are welcome, and at which we can experience life together. This table denotes some things that are central to our understanding of faith, but the table is not meant to keep people in or out, but rather, to draw people into the center of life with God. A table evokes things like food, meals, shared experience, laughter, tears, confessions, obsessions, accomplishments, rejections, love and sorrow, bread and wine, newness… and community.
In the picture, you notice three words – God, Jesus, resurrection. Those represent what you might call our ‘working understanding’ of the Bible and the life and message of Jesus: that God has presented himself to us through the person of Jesus, who on the cross showed us that God is love, that God is present with us in suffering, and that God sought ultimate justice by submitting to injustice. Yet this could not hold him down, and in the resurrection we find that God is not done with this world, but is in fact, transforming it.
All of this can be understood by the declaration ‘the kingdom of God is at hand’, which was central to the message of Jesus.
That is what we come to the table understanding as central to our life as a faith community.
Perhaps you noticed that the words are somewhat faded. This denotes to us that God is not always obvious in our world, and even how we understand these concepts of God, Jesus, and resurrection are not always cut and dried. There is room for questions, even for doubt, as God is always bigger and beyond our conceptualizations of him, and we all, like Jesus on the cross, experience moments of his absence (indeed, some would say this loss of God is the moment of true faith; for a God who is obviously present requires very little faith). We trust that though presently we ‘see through a glass darkly’, one day we shall see ‘face to face’. So while we may each have differing perspectives on various doctrinal issues, our common core understanding is that we encounter God in and through the person of Jesus, that we seek to be disciples who walk in the way of the cross, and that the resurrection means real hope for people here and now and that we can anticipate one day a new heavens and a new earth, a world where God is ‘all in all’.
If that sounds like a life worth living, or a community worth experiencing – we invite you to pull up a chair and join us.