Growing up in an Evangelical church, I thought that belief was the most important thing to Christian faith. We placed enormous emphasis on the Bible as the end-all-be-all of the Christian faith (unfortunately, we never developed real spiritual practices). And, as I get older, I find myself reading the bible more, loving the bible more, and caring about what the Bible says and what it means for not only my life, but for those around me. I find the authority in scripture. When I turned 16, I began having thoughts like: Do I believe in God? Or, do I believe in my pastors beliefs in God? Do I have my own answers? Or, do I have the answers of those around me?
Does one believe in God, if they just believe the teachings of their pastor? Maybe a better way is to say, by believing in the Christian religion, does religion believe for me? And, does what makes you a good Christian come from a checklist of beliefs?
I want to say that for some Christians, they actually believe in God without believing. They affirm some doctrine or creed, but it doesn’t shape their life. If you believe in Jesus, but aren’t going to do the discipleship of being transformed into his image (ironically the same image in which we are created), then do you really believe in Jesus? We affirm the statement “believe in the Truth and it will set you free”, but does this Truth create an existential and systemic transformation? The notion of Truth, as the bible depicts it, is utterly dependent upon this liberation.
What matters to me is not what I believe, but what I am believing. Because if Truth isn’t transformative, then why believe in it? The question for me is not what Christianity does for me by a belief in a doctrine, but what does a belief in a doctrine help me become? And, if Christianity is not something that liberates not only those who believe in it, but others through those who believe in it, then what good is it? The belief is the endpoint, and we are in the process of becoming our beliefs. Or, as Stanley Hauerwas says about the Sermon On The Mount, “The basis for the ethics of the Sermon on the Mount is not what works, but rather who God is.” And, what we should be interested in is living out God in the world. Not just to get into heaven, but so we can get heaven into us, and then give it away to others.