Streams of Belief

There’s something in my personality that doesn’t like to take a position. If you ask me my politics, I’ll say I’m moderate. I lean left on some issues, right on others. If you ask me if I’m Calvinist or Armenian, I’ll say, “I’m for mystery,” because, honestly, I don’t know (and I don’t really think it matters that much). If you ask me how I feel about attachment parenting versus regular old “non-attachment?” parenting, I’d say: “I understand where both sides are coming from.”

You may find that annoying. I’ve known several people in my life who wished I would just take a side. It’s not that I don’t want to and I do make choices. (Obviously, I’ve made decisions in how to raise my kids.) I’m just always going to consider the other side. That makes me a questioner. A doubter.

So, I’m not one to classify my theology, to say: I am strictly this and I am right. Sometimes I wish I could claim a side. It’d make for less struggling. So, what a shock when this past week the pastor at our new church mentioned the 3 streams of our church’s belief system…and I thought: “That’s what I believe!”

And amazingly they all start with an “s”! How do preachers do that?

  1. A love for and belief in the authority of scriptureI don’t always know how to interpret scripture, especially when it comes to Paul’s letters and troubling Old Testament passages, but I believe the Bible is “God-breathed” and I have experienced its power in my life and in the lives of others. I believe it is the foundation of our faith. After all, how we can know Jesus without the words that show him to us?
  2. The movement of the Spirit in our lives – I know God uses people. He directs people. He is at work in us through the Holy Spirit, who convicts, instructs, reveals the need around us, and places us beside the needy.
  3. The Sacred – Quietness, solitude, liturgy, the Arts, beauty, tradition. The thread that links the entire Church together is prayer. Prayer is the vessel for the sacred. My life in the Church felt lacking until I came to these gifts. They complete my understanding of what it means to follow Christ.

I grew up in a church that rooted me deeply in a love for God’s word. I’m forever grateful for that. I learned in college that I was called to listen for the Spirit, to respond to its movement in my gut. Usually it was nudging me toward an apology or directing me toward some one on the fringes who needed to be cared for. I learned that if I thought it was the Spirit’s voice it had better line up with the Jesus I knew from scripture. But it was the discovery of the sacred in my 20’s that completed the circle for me. Scripture without Spirit can be judgmental and self-righteous. Commitment to “Spirit” without the sacred (and its direction toward tradition) can fall short of the wisdom of those who have come before us.  The sacred without scripture is meditation without a foundation of belief (nothing more than self-improvement).

But when we love scripture while listening to the Spirit and holding to the tradition and power of the sacred, we live with grace and truth. When we move through our days listening to the Spirit and recognizing, because of scripture, what is God’s voice and what is not, we are naturally pushed toward the holiness of the ordinary. When we look for God’s beauty through prayer, we know how to read scripture, we learn to recognize the Spirit.

They need each other. And, what do you know? I believe that.

What are the streams of belief you claim?


Filed under the Praying Life

3 Responses to Streams of Belief

  1. Ah yes, the three ‘s’s. Upon this trinity (small ‘t’), I, too, build my faith into a living, breathing one. This is 3-legged stool that actually holds up well (and holds me up, too). I join with your questioning heart, your middle-of-the-middle position and say amen and hallelujah. It’s sometimes a tough place to be, but ultimately it’s the best place to be, I think. Standing firmly on scripture, Spirit, sacred tradition/mystery - this makes for an open-hearted, open-minded welcoming faith, I think. Thanks for these good words.

  2. Micha, I forget if I’ve commented here before, so I will say again…. couple months ago, I found your blog through a mutual friend, Andy Crouch. And I have been oh so very thankful to journey along with you by reading here. We must be kindred spirits… just sorry I settled into the Philly area AFTER you left :) Thanks for this. I am a questioner as well, always considering the other side of things. And I LOVE the three S’s as streams of Christian living… beautiful. Thanks for writing publically… makes me feel like I’m not all that weird or strange after all… sometimes the suburbs of Philly feel like I lonely place for those not so easily boxed by labels… I’m sure you know what I mean!

  3. I came this way, too. The Text, the Spirit, the Sacred. It has been in college that the Sacred was brought in and yes, yes, the circle was complete. I’m less fluid about fundamentals, but fluid about the Journey. What am I trying to say here? You’ve set a table and this, what you have placed before us, this I savor and I get.

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