This is a statement I wrote this last March when I joined the church I now belong to.
God is coming into being, a present hope and a future reality. God is eternal and part of the ongoing process of creation. So God is not omnipotent yet, but has enough power so that miracles do occur. There is an interaction between God and people, and believing in God makes it possible for God to be more present. The God that I hear most folks describe may be what God will ultimately be like as that interaction continues over thousands or perhaps millions of years. The situation is one of timing, and not what God is actually like.
I know that humans find their relationship with God in many ways, and I accept most of those relationships as valid. But for me that relationship starts with my understanding of the life and ministry of Jesus as it is described in the Bible. I don’t know whether I believe that Jesus existed or not, but even if he didn’t, his life as I understand it has been lived out in the lives of so many people over the last two millennia that in them I see the call that he makes to bring people into right relationship with one another, and the willingness he had to challenge the powerful in defense of the least powerful and least significant and I find that I am compelled to believe that call is authentic and has authority over my thoughts and actions. Also, if there is a spirit of God present in the world, it is in these lives. I think that what I have learned from this great cloud of witnesses is that every person is utterly unique and of infinite value. Therefore, no one should hold enough power over other people to diminish their sense of personal dignity or their ability to act responsibly and to define what that means. Then I am called to be active in the world by supporting these convictions. And if salvation has to do with healing the world and everyone in it, and bringing us to being fully reconciled with one another, then I can accept it.
The Bible is a collection of works that describe the human search for the divine. It is the way we have of communicating with one another what is truly meaningful in our lives and what calls us to believe as we do. My relationship with it is like the story of Jacob wrestling with the angel. I will struggle with it all of my life and will be changed, even wounded by it. But in the end, I hope to receive its blessing.
Being a church member means committing to people as well as ideas. It means sharing a tradition and language that I can hold in common with others. It means valuing their convictions, even when I don’t share them. It is in this context that I find myself on a quest to determine what is good and to hold fast to it.