I’m doing something I never thought possible.
I’m re-examining Christianity.
What does this mean? I’m really not sure. I guess one of the most obvious things to take away from this realization is that I’ve finally healed enough to forgive the past. My head is clear enough to fairly re-examine the whole of Christianity apart from the taint of fundamentalism… or at least that’s my goal. I’m not sure I’ll ever be free from the taint of fundamentalism; this may mean that I continue to embrace the Divine apart from Christianity simply because I can’t get past my upbringing.
Fundamentalism taught me to see things in black and white. The Bible was the perfect and complete Word of God – all of it – and it dare not be questioned. God was both loving and vengeful; He was to be feared and obeyed. Hell was a literal place that unfortunate sinners went to when they died. Fundamentalism was controlling, judgmental, and fear-inducing. I will not return to that – ever.
Can I find the Divine I now believe in within Christianity? Can I find enough redeeming qualities in Christianity that will allow me to live under its umbrella?
There was a time when I knew the Divine only within the parameters of Christianity. I had spiritual experiences and felt love and peace – all experiences I still consider valid. Now that I’ve been out for three years, I find myself missing the familiarity of Christianity. I’ve considered other brands of spirituality during this time – Taoism, Buddhism, Paganism, etc. – and was willing to ponder their framework for encountering the Divine. I had spiritual experiences during this time and value the many lessons I’ve learned from other faiths. I picked up the title Unitarian Universalist and still want to hold onto that as part of my religious identity because it goes a long way toward describing my beliefs. But I’m not done searching and trying. What ultimately brought me back to considering Christianity was this thought:
If I was willing to look for the Divine within the framework of other faiths and their myths/sacred texts (without the binders of fundamentalism), why am I not willing to do the same for Christianity?
My core beliefs remain the same as I head into this endeavor:
- I do not believe in a literal Hell or place of punishment. I am accepting of Heaven, rebirth, or other positive afterlife options.
- I believe in the Divine and feel such a being to be positive and loving. I refuse to see the Divine as vengeful, petty, condoning of genocide, etc.
- I see the Bible and all other sacred texts as books written by men. There are inspiring things written in these texts that point humanity towards the Divine; perhaps some of these things came directly from the Divine. No sacred text is without error and no one text is the one for all of mankind to follow. Lessons – good and bad – can be learned from each text; each text has value.
- I believe the purpose of religion and all things holy should be to put humanity at peace with itself, the earth, and the Divine.
- Spirituality belongs to the individual. No one faith can claim to be the only one acceptable to the Divine.
I make no promises about where I’m headed, but I’ll keep you posted. I’m not sure there is a brand of Christianity that will fit my beliefs. This should be interesting blogging material if nothing else. 🙂