ThisWeBelieve

We are Christians who have found an approach to God through the life and teachings of Jesus, the Christ - but recognize the faithfulness of other people who have other names for the way to God's realm. We acknowledge that their ways are true for them, as our ways are true for us.


We invite people to participate in our community and worship life without insisting that they become like us in order to be acceptable; irrespective of gender, sexual orientation, race, background, minority status or religious persuasion.


We acknowledge the fact that how we behave towards other people is the fullest expression of what we believe.  Believing as “believing the right things” does not intrinsically lead to a changed life. It is possible to have strongly-held beliefs, even more or less right beliefs, and still be unchanged: fearful, self-preoccupied and self-concerned, angry, judgmental, mean, even brutal and violent. Christian history and the history of other religions are filled with examples. Believing has little transformative power.


For us, Christianity is not about “right beliefs.” It is about a change of heart. It is about the transformation of ourselves at that deep level that shapes our vision (how we see), our commitment (our loyalty, allegiance), and our values (how we live).


We find more grace in the search for meaning than in absolute certainty; more in the questions than in the answers.
 

We are dedicated to equipping one another for the work we feel called to do which is; striving for peace and justice among all people, protecting and restoring the integrity of all God's creation and bringing hope to those Jesus called the least of his sisters and brothers.


We recognize that being followers of Jesus, the Christ, is costly and entails selfless love, conscientious resistance to extreme ideologies, and renunciation of privilege.


The world has watched Christian rhetoric used to preserve our culture and the sanctification of capitalist greed.  We have allowed the Christian religion to become a captive horde of Bible-worshiping, homophobic, fundamentalist bullies who have naive answers for all of life's deepest ills. The true message of Jesus Christ has been hijacked by egocentric arrogance.  This is not what Christianity should be identified with.  Therefore we believe that it is our duty and obligation to provide a safe place for those who disagree with the extreme Fundamentalist Christian; for those who have escaped fundamentalism and are in the process of recovery from it.


We will not be silent when high profile, proclaimed Christians tout that they represent family values, the Christian faith, and insist that they speak on behalf of the Christian faith. We criticize their fruit, not them personally, as people! A person’s fruit will either bring life and acceptance to another or reject another, bringing division and pain.


For us, the center of Christianity is as follows:


1.  A yearning and passion for God. About 1600 years ago, Augustine wrote that our hearts are restless until they find their home in God. Yearning and passion are closely-related, even though the former can mean seeking without yet having found.  In our yearning, we do not proclaim to have arrived.  Instead, we find pleasure in walking with others who also have a yearning and passion for God, irrespective of their religion.


2. A passion for Jesus. Jesus is for Christians the decisive revelation of God – the decisive epiphany, disclosure, of the character and passion of God embodied in a human life. The centrality of Jesus is what makes Christians Christian. To explain by comparison: Jews find the decisive revelation of God in the Torah, Muslims in the Quran. Christians find it in Jesus – in a person, not in a book. That is not about superiority, but about definitional difference. For Christians to affirm that we find it in Jesus does not require denying that God is known elsewhere. Of course, a book, the Bible, is also revelation for Christians. But for Christians, Jesus trumps the Bible.


3.  Compassion is the central virtue of a life centered in God as known in Jesus. When Jesus in a few words summarized theology and ethics, the character of God and how we should live, he said, “Be compassionate as God is compassionate” Luke 6.36.  Compassion is not only a feeling but a doing. The imperative is not simply to feel compassion but to “be compassionate”- to act in accord with the feeling.


4.  A passion for the transformation of this world. Compassion – love – in the Bible has a social form. It is about participating in God’s passion for a world of justice and peace. Together, they are “the dream of God,” God’s dream for what the humanly-constructed worlds of societies and nations and cultures should be like. Justice is not about punitive or criminal justice, but about the fair distribution of God’s earth, for the earth belongs to God (Psalm 24). It is about economics: everybody should have enough of the material necessities of life, not simply through charity but as the product of the way the social system is put together. Peace is about the end of violence and war.


For us, being Christian is about being captivated by these passions. They are not beliefs as much as they are convictions and commitments.


We seem to live outside the limitations of Christian conventionality because; we question if there is a “Hell”, we don’t accept the idea that there is only one way to God, we understand that diversity is a strength - not a weakness, we acknowledge that evolution is real, that the Bible isn’t inerrant, Homosexuality isn’t a sin, and owning a gun isn’t a God given right.