Sitting on the Fence (or a Fence)

Last night, my church finished its study of Margaret Feinberg’s Scouting the Divine: My Search for God in Wine, Wool, and Wild Honey.

I’ve committed to doing a write-up on my church’s Bible study, but, to be honest, I’m not in the mood right now.  One thing that is difficult is that I do not know what I really believe about God, Jesus, religion, etc.  Even when I supposedly did know what I believed about those things, deep down I really did not know, or my conservative Christian beliefs did not appeal to me that much and I only believed in them because I felt I had to.  Some who read me may think that I should stop sitting on the fence—-that I should either accept conservative Christianity with its God, who comes across as sort of a jerk, or I should be an atheist.  Neither option appeals to me.  For that matter, neither do liberal forms of religion, which strike me as “made-up”.  I find that my beliefs on a given day vacillate among Christianity, belief in a benevolent higher power, and a cheerful agnosticism.

Last night at Bible study, I could identify with the talk about loving our neighbors and trying to help them out, and I especially appreciated people’s stories about their struggles to do so.  But when some were lamenting that a large number of evangelicals do not believe that Jesus is the only way to heaven, and they were saying that those evangelicals were not true Christians because believing in Jesus as the only way to get forgiveness is so foundational to Christianity, I felt somewhat uncomfortable.  “Suppose that’s true”, I wondered.  Even if I were to accept that as true, I wouldn’t know how to live with that kind of God—-one who excluded so many people.  I suppose that, if I identify with anything, it’s an article that Clark Pinnock wrote defending an inclusivist view of salvation (see my post here).  I appreciated that he sought to support with Scripture the notion that God’s love is vast, wide, and inclusive.

I won’t publish any comments that I consider to be a put-down.  But please feel free to share how you have handled these sorts of issues in your spiritual journey.

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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