Sunday, 5 April 2009


Revd Kaeton called this post a statement of faith. That caught me out; I hadn't really intended it to be such, it was more a response to questions, a clarification for my own benefit of ideas that were floating around looking for words.

I struggle with the creeds I grew up with; parts of each of them don't ring true for me at all. But what is any creed but a response to questions, a clarification of ideas?

I've been doing some further clarification this week, talking with friends and also reading what others have written. And I think I do want to write some of this down, have some record of it. It isn't necessarily where I'll end up, it isn't any permanent creed, but it is a snapshot of what I believe right now.

I believe in God. I have always believed in the existence of a Creator God... I cannot remember not believing. That belief has been refined over time and I have come to understand the Creator as being omnipresent, omnipotent, perfect and infinite. And being both perfect and infinite makes God essentially undescribable.

For me, the Oneness of God and the interconnectedness of all things are overwhelming to the point that even very monotheistic Trinitarian doctrine seems to me to be a thought-shorthand, a way to make it easier for humans to think about God rather than describing some innate reality of God. (That isn't necessarily a bad thing, as long as we remember that what are dealing with is an approximation, a metaphor, a thought-shorthand, not some Absolute Literal Truth.)

I lose sight of it easily, but I believe we are all children of God, beloved of God. I believe all Creation is beloved of God.

I believe we are invited, called if you will, to act to improve the world. This might be through seeking justice for the oppressed, through creating beauty, through showing care for one another. It may be through healing the sick or through feeding the hungry or through seeking truth. But we have been given, through free will, the opportunity to choose to act as agents of God's love for the world, in the world.

Sometimes, I think that it is our responsibility, our obligation, to do this. Other times I am not sure. To me, it seems a very compelling invitation.

But, having been given the choice, we have made mistakes. I'm not sure I can go as far as to say we are fallen, as such, but we are certainly wounded, imperfect, ignorant, incomplete. If we weren't, I'm not entirely sure the choice of right action, the choice of acting as agents of God's love, would be meaningful.

But if God is perfect then by extension (unless I've misdefined 'perfect') God is loving and God is just, and if God is loving and just then, having created us imperfect, God cannot condemn us. So... we are redeemed. We are saved. To my mind, forgiveness is absolutely unconditional and universal. It doesn't matter how horrible you are, it doesn't matter what you believe, who you hurt, you are forgiven. This is hard to swallow: there are people in the world who I sometimes think do not deserve salvation, cannot imagine forgiveness for. Thankfully I am not God! God's mercy is a lot bigger than mine is. God's mercy, like God's love, is infinite.

I only this week realised that if this is the case there must be some sort of life beyond this world, some sort of continuation after death. It surprised me. But I was talking to a friend about my anger at (God? the world?) for the treatment of another friend of mine, who has seen sadness after sadness, though she does so much good work. And I know that what she is going through now will make her, eventually, stronger, but it still seems unfair. And the friend I was talking to said, "Yes, test people, but not to destruction... except we do all die, we are all tested to destruction." So. Either death (as we see it from our side) is not the end, or God is not loving. Ouch! But as I am so often reminded in my life, love is stronger than anything. Even stronger than death. So, quite simply, death cannot be the end. I don't claim to have any details on this. I don't understand what "death is not the end" means, in any sort of practical terms.

God's infinite mercy, unconditional forgiveness, does not mean that our actions do not matter. Because of the interconnectedness of all things, because all Creation is created, any harm that comes to any creature is painful to God. We are not punished for that, because of God's love for us. God bears the pain of our failures, no matter how grave, rather than banish us from grace. But the forgiveness, the lack of punishment, the rescue from eternal condemnation: these don't mean that our actions matter less. They mean, somehow, that our actions matter more. They are our invitation to extend that same lovingkindness to the world, to dare to pass it on.

I don't really know what this means: it's too big for me to imagine. But the more I allow myself to accept the depth of God's love, the more I feel able to love the world.

In summary: Love is stronger. Pass it on.


Sara said...

Well stated. I find that a lot of us are in similar places. Experiencing life, pain, suffering, death, joy, beauty, love, can not but change our view of the world and our God.

it's margaret said...

...hmmmmm. Very interesting. Keep going.

Wormwood's Doxy said...

"Amen!" to everything you said.


Song in my Heart said...

Thanks all for dropping by!

Sara--yes, experience has very much changed my view and understanding of the world and God. I expect it will continue to do so.

Margaret, I will certainly keep going. I'm not sure where any of this is going but I don't seem to be able to stay in one place very long right now.

Doxy, thank you.