While I do believe in a Deity, it’s not exactly the Thomistic god of Christian orthodoxy. I find panentheism to be quite intriguing. Don’t really have a clue about the Trinity. Even on the days when I could sincerely sign my name at the bottom of the Athanasian creed, I still don’t consider the doctrine to be immensely important to Christianity, at least, insofar as it impacts one in living righteously. To be honest, most days I consider it to be a pretty useless and antiquated obstacle to the Christian faith. It is only because I am such a fan of the theologian Jürgen Moltmann (for whom the importance of the Trinity shows through in his social trinitarianism) that I have not entirely jettisoned the doctrine of the Trinity from my repertoire of half-hearted theological beliefs.
While I claim ignorance regarding what happens when we die, I must say that I definitely don’t subscribe to the idea of hell. Even though I did believe in it during my teenage years, I now find the idea of eternal conscious retributive punishment to be an abhorrent thing to believe in. I do believe in some sort of existence after death, but I am somewhat skeptical of the idea of an incorporeal soul part of us that survives death and flies through a tunnel of light to heaven. I find the idea of a future resurrection of the body to be a much more holistic and meaningful concept in this modern scientific age regarding the question of life-after-death.
Who was Jesus of Nazareth? I think the virgin birth of Jesus is a later accretion to the message being proclaimed about him and probably doesn’t have any basis in history, but that seems to be a not so uncommon view amongst Christian theologians nowadays. Was he the eternal second person of the Trinity incarnate in the flesh? I thought so for many years, but now, even on my best of days I have a hard time swallowing that one. Historical research has given us no reason to consider that he ever claimed such a thing. Church tradition eventually hammered it all out over the first half a millenia, but I really don’t know what to do with church tradition so that isn’t helpful. I have no problem saying something like “Jesus is divine”, but it would be disingenuous of me to say that without the disclaimer that I haven’t made up my mind as to exactly what I mean by that. Does Jesus’ divinity stem from a pre-existence as deity? Was it something only conferred upon him at the resurrection? Or something else entirely? I simply just don’t know.
I like Christianity because of the narrative I find in the Gospels. Jesus teaches and lives out the good news of the kingdom of God, bringing hope and joy to the marginalized and poor of the world, which then climaxes in his unjust crucifixion at the hands of the powerful. This bleak picture is then further intensified in Mark’s record of Jesus’ cry of dereliction on the cross. But did the resurrection actually occur or was it just a figment of the imagination of some disciples? As I’ve said before on this blog, I don’t think there is any more of a reason to accept the historicity of the resurrection any moreso than any other supernatural event in antiquity, but I hope that the resurrection occurred and was indeed the Deity saying fully “Yes!” to Jesus, as the resurrection provides the best answer to the question of theodicy that I have encountered.
It’s been ten years since I first became a Christian (I was raised Catholic until then but that doesn’t count). I went from a 15 year old teenager who was certain of everything I believed about the Bible (e.g. its inerrancy and inspiration) and theology (e.g. pre-trib dispensationalism, seven-day creationism, everyone-is-going-to-hell-except-conservative-Christians, etc), to a 25 year old married man whose knowledge on Christianity and world religions has exponentially grown over the past few years, yet who, almost paradoxically, is now full of doubts instead of certainties. And I wouldn’t have it any other way!