I am a recovering "professional Christian." I'm seeking a community of faith (and of questioning faith) that is more inclusive, radically ecumenical and inter-faith, less bureaucratic, less doctrinal and tribal, more loving, less institutional and denominational, for worship that is more experiential and eclectic, and that seeks wisdom from a variety of wise people and world religious traditions.
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The following entry completes the preface to my forthcoming book Possible Faith - For Those Who Are Finding It Less Than So.
I am seeking to be Christian in a way that is neither defensive nor divisive – that is hospitable, gracious, and inclusive, and that is humbly possible. I want to widen my understanding of the origins of the universe that is informed by both science and spirit. A theology I can live with is one that envisions the communal and creative nature of God – a faith that looks for God's continuing self-revelation, that embraces post-Newtonian science and post-Reformation theologies.
I want to live into a hopeful future that asks questions like “Where is Creation leading? What does it have to teach us and reveal to us? What is this world coming to?” A future I can live into is one that embraces a “thy kingdom come on earth” vision, co-created with other hopeful people and with God who has chosen not to make a world without us in it.
This book is a testimony, a sharing of my unfolding faith. It is not intended to convince or convert. In the movie The Matrix Reloaded there is a telling exchange between the commander of Zion’s defensive forces and Morpheus, a John the Baptist-type character who believes Neo is the long-expected savior of their people:
Commander Lock: “Dammit Morpheus, not everyone believes what you believe!”
Morpheus: “My beliefs do not require them to.”
My journey of believing does not require anyone, including you, to believe as I do. My journey does require me to receive the way you believe with genuine interest and care.
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Brian McLaren’s semi-autobiographical book, A New Kind of Christian, tells the story of Dan, a middle-aged pastor experiencing a crisis of faith and identity as a pastor. McLaren shares his own struggles in the introduction of the book:
Sometime in1994, at the age of 38, I got sick of being a pastor. Frankly, I was almost sick of being a Christian… my ministry death wish and [my] urge for spiritual escape were telling me something I needed to attend to… At the time I could only see two alternatives: [condense his and add my own] (1) continue practicing and promoting a version of Christianity that I had deepening reservations about or (2) leave Christian ministry, and perhaps the Christian path, altogether. There was a third alternative that I hadn’t yet considered: learn to be a Christian in a new way.
Much like Brian’s experience, I’ve have been struggling with a lot of what I had been teaching and preaching, knowing in my heart and my mind that I just didn't buy some of it anymore. I‘ve been looking for a practical theology that ignited my heart and excited my mind. A theology and belief system that affirmed God's continuing self-revelation, that took into account post-Newtonian science and post-Reformation theologies. And, an approach to scripture as a window to God's eternal wisdom that goes beyond the "God said it, I believe it, that settles it" mentality.
Former mega-church pastor, writer Jim Palmer posted this on his Facebook page –
Back in the day, I was a pastor at the largest church in North America. Eventually I walked away from it all because I could no longer teach beliefs and doctrines that I myself no longer accepted. No person taught evangelical theology with the devotion and passion that I did, but one day I realized this did not produce true and lasting change in others’ lives or my own. Looking back, I can see I made at least these mistakes as a megachurch pastor:
Putting church over community
Putting orthodoxy over love.
Putting certainty over wonder.
Putting teaching over conversation.
Putting polished over real.
Putting explanations over empathy.
Putting answers over questions.
Putting membership over friendship.
Putting prayer over action.
Putting services over self-care.
Putting style over substance.
Putting appearance over authenticity.
Putting functionality over beauty.
Putting religion over spirituality.
Putting numbers over faces.
Putting holiness over humanity.
Putting accountability over acceptance.
Putting heaven over earth.
Putting meetings over relationships.
Putting reputation over risk.
Putting superiority over humility.
Putting charisma over compassion.
Putting the afterlife over the herelife.
Putting doctrine over reason.
Putting hierarchy over equality.
I would add these persistent preferences of many of the people I served: membership over discipleship, doctrine over experience and reason, finances over faithfulness, possible liability over mission, and professional ministry over the ministry of all.
 Brian McLaren, A New Kind of Christian, A Tale of Two Friends on a Spiritual Journey, Jossey-Bass, 2001, Introduction pp. xiii-xiv
 https://www.facebook.com/jimpalmerauthor, 8/23/20