Choosing a Path: Why I Believe the Things I Do

Joe, my atheist co-writer offers this: “Therein lies the difference between myself and those that adhere to some form of faith. I chose a path which questions everything.” On one hand I appreciate Joe’s openness to new ways of seeing, thinking and being. He chose to walk away from a religious belief system and to replace it with a belief in questioning and exploring.

My question to Joe is whether he gives himself permission to land? Does the process of questioning everything lead to greater clarity or greater confusion? Is simply questioning enough?

Implicit in Joe’s argument is the idea that to adhere to a religious faith is to limit ones thinking. My experience is that to dive deeply into a religious tradition is to enter upon a journey that will take you to unexpected places, raise unanticipated questions and on occasion offer surprising answers.

Religion is from the Latin religio which means to attach or re-attach to that which provides meaning. Where do you find meaning?

As a follower of Jesus, I’ve chosen to attach and re-attach myself to his teachings and witness. For me Jesus is the embodiment of universal love that challenges me to love in an expansive way. In 1 John 4 the writer offers: ‘No one has ever seen God but when we love one another, God lives in us and God’s love is made complete in us.’

Jesus is the antithesis of hate and judgment. Those who hate and judge don’t know the real Jesus.

Anne Lamott puts it this way: “If God hates the same people you do, then rest assured you’ve created God in your own image”.

Jesus’ love empowers imperfect people like me to try let go of bitterness, fear, self-centeredness. Sometimes we succeed sometimes not. It’s a love that encompasses people who believe and don’t believe. My faith draws me into an ever-widening circle. Such expansive living allows me to catch a glimpse of that great mystery some call God/Spirit/Creator.

Rather than being static my spiritual path is continually evolving. The school of hard knocks has forced me to wrestle with questions that I’d otherwise not ask. The death of a best friend, estrangement from a family member, a diagnosis of cancer brought questions I’d otherwise not have: ‘What do I really believe? What do I truly values? Is God real or an illusion? Is there hope? Can a broken heart be mended?’

A few of these questions have provided a hard-won answer that I’d otherwise not have.

To Joe I say, I too am on a path that questions everything. My faith tells me that I don’t journey with the questions alone.

Advertisements

About Kent Harrop

I am bi-coastal...I was raised in New England (Rhode Island) and for twenty years 1994 - 2014 served as pastor of First Baptist Church McMinnville, Oregon. In May 2014 I moved with my wife Tricia back to New England and serve on a team of ministers at the First Baptist Church in Beverly, Massachusetts. I love the beauty and geographic breadth of Oregon and the north shore of Massachusetts. A growing edge for me is the integration of the contemplative and prophetic life. Tricia and I enjoy gardening, camping and kayaking on rivers and ocean. We have two grown daughters who are strong, smart and adventurous. The purpose of the blog is to explore the relationship between faith and the wider culture. The views expressed here are my own.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Choosing a Path: Why I Believe the Things I Do

  1. Since this format is as intended as a quasi-debate, I would offer this response to Kent’s question about my perspective and stick with the landing comparison.My choice of paths gives me many opportunities to land. I would contend that a belief in one path, the Christian path, limits one to a single runway. You have no option but to land at that one location. When you begin your flight (Journey) you navigate to that specific location. By limiting yourself to a single destination you ignore changing conditions, turbulence, or information of poor conditions (concepts) at your predetermined destination.
    My point is to open the possibility to a course adjustment as I learn more. Might I steer back to the original point, it’s possible but doubtful. My radar shows problems with such a narrow perspective. No matter how sincere. I think the mind of man in incapable of conceiving the concept of a god capable of creating the universe and any version they do imagine is handicapped by this limitation.
    Fly well, my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s