Agnostic Christian

For weeks I have been mulling over a recent column when another columnist labeled agnostics “cowardly.” I beg to differ. The older (and hopefully wiser) I get, the more l shy away from theological certainty, frequently couched in judgment and self-righteousness.

When I was younger I thought I knew it all, and would gleefully and righteously disagree with others with a different theological “take” at various subjects, be it the divinity of Christ the understanding of predetermination, the understanding of heaven and hell and who would go where.

As my faith walk continued, amidst some wandering and much stumbling, I found that the “certainties” I held dearly first yielded to doubts, then further questioning and exploring. and a new theology continuing to emerge that looks quite different from the rigid orthodoxies of my younger self.

This has led me to becoming, in the eyes of many, a “heretic” The original meaning of the word simply means “other,” such as different. It only later accrued judgment and condemnation.

But I am proud to be a “heretic”, in particular in regards to two widely accepted doctrines: the nature of Jesus, in particular in his relationship to humans; and the place and existence of heaven and hell.

In regards to Jesus, most reading this column who identify as Christian see Jesus as the early church creeds (Apostles, Nicene, Athanasian) did, that declared him: “son of God,” “only begotten,” “one with the Father.” I have no problem with that centuries-old orthodoxy, except when people claim it is clear in the Bible. All of these creeds did not emerge until the fourth century, amidst fierce fights among both theologians and ordinary people. The victors “won” while the losers were vanquished, their bishoprics stripped, some exiled, some imprisoned, some executed, their “heretical” writings, including the Gospel of Thomas. ferreted out and destroyed.

Before Jesus was officially proclaimed God, there were lots of various teachings about him. such as in the previously cited Gospel of Thomas, where he is seen as our “twin,” not to come as god-man to redeem us and save us from hell, but to reveal to us that our nature is like his, our role — to heal, to reconcile —is the same as his. This is what I now believe, and I believe that the doubt that led to this place is not a place of “cowardice,’ but of true faith, that of living each day as a follower of Jesus, using his example and stories to guide my way and sustain me.

Concomitantly. when I look at the more orthodox understandings of hell and heaven they no longer hold neither threat or promise for me. I am also an “agnostic” in that regard. The thought of the existence of either does not govern my thoughts or actions. I simply try to live each day as I was taught by Jesus, so that my thoughts and actions towards others provide healing and hope. For me that is enough.
I do not consider my rejecting the “certainty” of others as an act of cowardice, but as a supreme act of faith, where my own questioning has led me to this place


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