I've actually been contemplating making this declaration for months. But I've been on unofficial and unplanned hiatus from this blog for most of the summer -- a product of distraction, an erratic schedule, vacation, more kid-time, and a thousand other things.
I am a Christian.
I am also, still, a Unitarian Universalist, and I do not consider these two declarations of faith to be mutually exclusive.
I know there are millions of Christians who will tell me that, no, I am not a Christian. But I take comfort in the millions who will accept my declaration of faith on its face.
I do not believe that Jesus died so that I might be saved, by a vengeful, sadistic and petty tyrant of a god, from an eternal torment as a result of an act committed by a mythical ancestor 6,000 years ago.
But I still declare myself a Christian.
I do believe that the planet and the Universe are indeed as many millions of years old as the best scientific evidence appears to show them to be. I believe my ancestors emerged over eons, increasingly complex from once-simple organisms. I believe that their actual coming into being, the entire universe's coming into being, was an act of creation by a supreme and not entirely knowable, distant and overarching yet intimate, creative force and personality for which God is the most familiar name, however imperfect and insufficient.
I believe that many people have walked this planet and been acutely in touch with that force, that personality. I believe that one of them lived about 2,000 years ago, a working class man born into a humble family in the Middle East, in a country under the grip of a foreign oppressor, who grew up to preach a radical message of love, equality, humility, and sharing, a message that called on all to transcend boundaries established by social norms and structures of hierarchy. His message was not, in itself, unique, but it was rendered in a powerful and distinctive voice
That message speaks deeply to me. And so I call myself a Christian.
I do not know in what way Jesus transcended his death on the cross 2,000 years ago. I don't dismiss out of hand the possibility that some sort of real resurrection occurred, although if it did I wonder why it was not more widely recorded even in that time. But, more likely, I believe that what transcended death was the force of his example and the force of his radical egalitarian vision.
These ideas that I embrace are not the product of any original thought. For the last two years I've been on an autodidactic journey through a handful of works of contemporary Christian scholarship. And so I've read, mostly, John Dominic Crossan and Marcus Borg, both Jesus Seminar scholars; and Michael Dowd; and Rebecca Ann Parker and Rita Nakishima Brock. The most recent installment of my curriculum was Brian McLaren's The Secret Message of Jesus: a distillation, in a voice and tone that rings with the familiar cadences of the Evangelical pulpit, of the radical teachings I described above. All of the works I've described spoke to me, but Message spoke with the most fervor and enabled me to say:
I am a Christian.
And what now? What next?
While I'm sure I will read more in that vein in the coming months and years, that journey has reached a pause, as I synthesize what I've encountered and make sense of it in my own life.
I will have more to write about some of this, I'm sure, in coming days, weeks and months. For now, it just felt it was time to say what I have said.
And so I have.
4 hours ago