31st January 2019
For some 20 years I have been providing morning tea at our Acacia Ridge Uniting Church between 10 and 11 a.m. every Thursday. In all this time it has been disappointing. I had hoped that, during these get-togethers, members of our congregation would take the opportunity to discuss “theological” questions in a warm, friendly and safe non-judgemental atmosphere.
That has not happened. The morning teas have been convivial enough but there has been no discussion beyond the mundane day to day events and perhaps an occasional diversion into the current congregational politics.
I recognised why this might be when one officer of the congregation put it this way.
“Rodney likes to ask questions but I prefer not to do that. If I asked questions relevant to my Christian faith, I might start to think I was wrong about some things and then my whole faith would collapse”
I love my colleagues and do not wish to make them uncomfortable over their orthodoxy, so do not press such issues.
Perhaps the best I can do is just be a “witness”. We had a visit from a Presbytery officer last Sunday, I assumed he did not know me very well, So what I usually do when I get into conversation, with others known to me to be Christian, is usually state, to be clear on where I stand, “You need to know that I am a “progressive” Christian.”
I was a bit taken aback when he responded. “Oh yes, we in the Presbytery know all about you and your “progressive” Christianity.” In the end I was very pleased about this. It means there is no need for me to be preachy and, so far as I am aware, I remain on friendly terms with all those with whom I interact (including my congregation)
But to get back to morning tea. It so happens that lately we have been joined regularly by a man who “dropped in” one day. He is a Baptist and very secure in his orthodoxy. What has attracted him to the morning teas, however, is that we can have these “theological” differences, talk about them and still remain on friendly terms.
Then this morning we were joined by a member of my own congregation, she is one who is prepared to explore a little but only goes so far.
The subject of faith came up.
Karen explained it thus. It is like someone offering you a cake to eat. It tastes good. You’ve eaten many cakes before and no harm has befallen you. Thus you take it on faith that accepting that cake will be a good thing to do. You don’t question it.
I responded, and Karen saw the point. “Yes, but I may have been offered cakes like this before and they have turned out to be not at all what I was expecting.” Therefore I want to question
What’s in the cake? Who made it? How old is it? Can we freshen it up a bit?
So that is the difference between blind faith and questioning faith. It does not mean that in the end eating the cake or having the faith is not worthwhile. But, in being confident in “what works” for us rather than in supernatural expectations which we struggle to demonstrate we can have a secure foundation in how we see and operate as Christians in this wonderful, complex world of ours.