What If I Believe In “God,” But Not In Jesus?
What is the point of Christians insisting that Jesus Christ is the only way to go to heaven? What about the man or woman who believes in, loves, and worships God, but does not believe in or worship Jesus? Is it possible that God would refuse to accept someone simply because they do not believe in Christ? Christian claims are exclusive by nature, which is one of the cultural challenges to their acceptance and practice. Take a look at the following passages: 1
- There is no one else who can save you. Acts 4:12
- I am the way, the truth, and the life
- No one comes to the Father except through me. No one else can bring someone to the Father but through me. 14:6
- John 14:6
The fact is that such comments are risky, if not downright disrespectful, in view of our culture’s stress on the relativity of truth and the diversity of suitable methods of approaching God. We face the accusation of exclusivity since Christianity has stated that trust in Christ is required for salvation. Our religion is then labeled as intolerant and so unsuitable in the marketplace of ideas. Is this charge warranted in this case? Is Christianity genuinely a religion of exclusion? Christian exclusivity arguments are rejected because they are incompatible with the belief that God, assuming He exists and is capable of such restrictions on access to Himself.
There is a key theological presupposition at the heart of this debate, and it must be addressed.
- In order to answer the question, God’s basic essence must be divided.
- Because if God is not triune, then Jesus is not completely divine, and the Christian faith is reduced to nothing more than another religion competing for people’s attention.
- Whoever has true and complete love and trust in one will also have true and complete love and trust in the other.
- Whoever confesses the Son has also confessed the Father.
- God has declared everyone who does not believe in him to be a liar, because he has not placed his faith in the witness that God has given concerning his Son.
- Whoever believes in the Son of God has eternal life; whoever does not believe in the Son of God does not have eternal life.
- Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him, as the saying goes.
– Luke 10:16 (NIV) Everyone who continues on their path and does not adhere to the teachings of Christ does not have God in their lives.
– 2 Thessalonians 9 When it comes to knowing Christ, there is an unbreakable relationship between knowing Christ and knowing Jesus Christ the Father.
This is a reciprocal relationship.
He is the image of the unseen God, the firstborn of all creation, and the embodiment of all that is good.
In addition, he is the head of the body, which is the church.
For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and in him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his death.
– Colossians 1:15-23 This not a theology that promotes arrogance on the side of people who believe Christ, but rather a hunger for others to experience and see the beauty of the Father as it shines forth fully and gloriously in His loving Son.
May us put to dead any sinful and ignorant pride and be a people who tearfully urge every country, tongue, and tribe to be reconciled to God through the person and work of Jesus Christ.
1 See Is Jesus the Only Way? for a more in-depth statement of the uniqueness of Christian faith in Christ. 2 A teaching on the Christian belief in the Trinity may be found in the Dwell Deep Weeks 10, 11, and 12 series. – Village Resources are a group of people that work together to improve the quality of life in their community. We enjoy developing practical discipleship materials to assist you in growing in your knowledge and love of God. If you’ve benefitted from our materials, would you consider making a donation to enable us to continue assisting men, women, and children as they discover their role in God’s story?
Can You Believe in God But Not Believe in Jesus?
Approximately 65 percent of individuals in the United States identify as Christians when questioned about their religious affiliation, according to Pew Research Center telephone polls conducted in 2018 and 2019. But what exactly does this term imply in practice? Is it necessary for someone to recognize Jesus as the Son of God and to follow His teachings in order to be considered a “Christian?” Is it possible to believe in God while not believing in Jesus? Is it possible to be a Christian while still rejecting Christ?
What Is a “Christian”?
According to Acts 11:26, the word “Christian” was first used in this context to refer to individuals who followed Jesus as followers. Barnabas had left the city of Antioch in order to bring Paul back to the city and instruct the new converts. “And when he finally tracked him down, he transported him to Antioch.” And for a complete year, they met with the church and taught a large number of people; as a result, the disciples became the first to be referred to as Christians in Antioch.” A biblical view of what it means to be a Christian is based on two terms found in this verse: “Christ” and “Christian.” In the first place, there is the word “disciple,” which is derived from the Greek wordmathts and defines a student, an apupil, or someone who adheres to the teachings of another.
- According to the Blue Letter Bible, the literal meaning is “a student” (from the Greek manthano, “to learn,” which comes from the rootmath-, which indicates thought coupled with effort).
- The underlying term is Christos, which literally translates as “anointed,” and in the Bible, it is always used to refer to the Messiah, the Son of God.
- Consequently, according to biblical teachings, a Christian is first and foremost a disciple, someone who follows and learns from Jesus, as well as someone who believes in and follows Him.
- Instead, they pick and choose which aspects of the “Christian” life they believe are beneficial to themselves and society, while rejecting the rest of what the Bible, and Jesus in particular, has to say about the subject.
Is it possible for someone to believe in God while rejecting Jesus? Is it possible for someone to identify as a Christian when they are neither a follower nor a student of Christ, as defined by the Bible? Is it possible to divorce Jesus from God? Is it possible to divorce God from Jesus?
Witnesses to Jesus’ Sovereignty
If one is devoted to the God of the Bible, I believe this is impossible to achieve. As a matter of fact, I would argue that when someone proclaims a belief in God other than Jesus, they are not serving God at all, but merely an imitation, an idol, which they have made out of their own free will and desire. Instead of serving the Deity who created them, they have constructed a god who serves them and their needs. Jesus Himself had to deal with a group of individuals who were hesitant to believe in Him, but who were outwardly and publicly dedicated to fulfilling the will of God.
In John 6, Christ provided His critics with three testimonies to the fact that He was, in fact, the Son of God and, thus, should be regarded as the Messiah who had been foretold.
Witness1 was John the Baptist, whom they had previously recognized as a trustworthy prophet of the Lord (Matthew 14:5, 21:26;Mark 11:32;Luke 20:6).
When John declared that Jesus was the Son of God, many people believed him (John 1:29-34).
The people realized that only God could achieve marvels of this magnitude (John 7:31, 9:30-33, 10:21) God the Father Himself bore witness3, first at Jesus’ baptism and then again when He was transfigured, appearing in His full glory, with His face gleaming like the sun and His robes as white as the dawning of day.
– (Matthew 3:13-17; 17:1-5; 18:1-5).
Instead than accepting the unassailable testimony, they looked for ways to reject them as untrue.
The Pharisees attempted to discredit Jesus by accusing Him of performing miracles through the power of demons (Matthew 12:22-24), and they attempted to seize Him on numerous occasions in order to prevent Him from continuing His teaching, fearing that they would lose their position and power if they did (John 11:48).
Where Does Jesus Affirm That He Is God?
Jesus does not want us to be perplexed about who He is or what He is about. He was forthright in his teaching that He came from God, that He is the Son of God, and that to reject Him is to reject God himself. “So that everyone would revere the Son as much as they honor the Father,” says John 5:23. “He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him,” says the apostle Paul. 5:38 – “You do not have His message living in you because you do not believe Him who sent Him,” says the author of John 5.
“For it is the Father’s will that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on that last day.” “Everyone who has heard and learnt from the Father comes to Me,” says Jesus in John 6:45.
You have never heard His voice, nor have you ever seen His physical presence.
In John 8:42-43 and 47, Jesus says to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me because I came forth and have come from God, for I did not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me.” What are you talking about that you don’t understand?
He who is of God hears the words of God; as a result, you are unable to hear them because you are not of God.'” The Bible says in John 7:17, “If someone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teaching, whether it is from God or if I am speaking from Myself.” If someone is willing to do God’s will, they will know of the teaching.
What Does It Mean to Believe in Jesus?
The death and resurrection of Jesus provide the most compelling evidence that He is indeed God, and that He deserves to be acknowledged and honored by those who believe in God. Jesus defeated death and resurrected from the dead, removing any question as to whether or not He was who He claimed to be in the first place. Over the course of 40 days, more than 500 individuals observed the resurrected Christ before He ascended into heaven in plain view of His devoted disciples (Acts 1:1-11). If nothing else persuades us, His resurrection should suffice as sufficient evidence.
- “But to as many as received Him, He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God,” John 1:12-13 says.
- Recognizing our estrangement from God (Romans 3:23), turning away from our sin (repentance), and surrendering our life to His authority and rule are all necessary prerequisites for genuine trust in God (Roman 10:9-10;Matthew 4:17;Acts 2:38).
- God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give us the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in Christ.
- When the cross confronts us with our guilt, it is difficult for us to acknowledge that we are sinners who are separated from God and in need of redemption.
Are You a Christian, or Do You Simply Believe in “god”?
In today’s culture, we’re led to think that there are several paths to paradise and that you may believe in a deity that welcomes you on your own terms. This is dishonesty at its most egregious level. While it may appear to be tolerant and kind to believe in the god of your choosing, doing so will ultimately result in disaster and an eternity apart from the Most High God who created you to worship Him and sent His Son to teach you how to do so. John 14:1–7 – – – – – – – – – – “Be calm and believe in God; believe also in Me,’ says the Lord.
- In the event that I leave to make a place for you, I will return to accept you into Myself so that you may be where I am as well.
- Then Jesus told him that he was the only route to the Father and that no one else could get to the Father except through Him.
- She and her husband are the founders of Around The Corner Ministries, which seeks to empower Christ-followers to proclaim the gospel in their communities where they live, work, and play, among other things.
- She has also written a Bible study for small groups who want to reach their communities for Christ, calledGoing Around The Corner.
A passionate student of God’s Word, Sheila writes on her blog, “The Way of the Word,” about the lessons she is learning from the Lord. Follow her on her blog, Facebook, and Instagram to stay up to date.
Meet Those Who “Love Jesus but Not the Church”
We are living in an increasingly secularized American society. Religion is retreating from the public arena in this new age, and old organizations such as the church are no longer able to function with the cultural power that they previously possessed in previous generations, as has been observed. Today, about half of the population of the United States is unchurched. Although an increasing number of Americans are quitting the institutional church and its clearly defined border markers of religious identity, many continue to believe in God and exercise religion outside of its gates.
- Starting with the interesting portion of the American population that, as the expression goes, “love Jesus but hate the church,” let’s take a look at what makes them tick.
- Barna developed a measure to identify Christians who most closely meet the criteria of lasting fidelity notwithstanding their rejection of the institutional church in order to have a better understanding of this phenomenon.
- The majority of these people have a true faith (89 percent have made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that is still vital in their lives today), yet they are noticeably missing from their local church.
- Among those interviewed, the majority (61 percent) are women, and four-fifths (80 percent) are between the ages of 33 and 70.
- The fact that Millennials are the least churched generation is compounded by the fact that they are also the least likely to identify as Christian or to state that Christianity is very important in their lives, which explains their underrepresentation within this group.
It appears that the majority of this group is white (63 percent) and that it is concentrated in the southern states (33 percent), the midwestern states (30 percent), and the western states (25 percent), with only a small number (13 percent) hailing from the northeast, which is traditionally home to the majority of post-Christian cities in America.
- Perhaps left-leaning individuals of religion are experiencing some kind of political strife inside their congregation, which may have driven them to leave.
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- In every instance, their religious views are more orthodox than those held by the broader public, and they are even more orthodox than those held by their church-going counterparts.
- adults’ 59 percent and practicing Christians’ 90 percent); affirm that “God is the all-powerful, all-knowing, perfect creator of the universe who rules the world today” (94 percent, compared to U.S.
- adults’ 59 percent and practicing Christians (95 percent compared to U.S.
- When it comes to religious convictions, persons who “love Jesus but don’t love the church” are considered to be orthodox.
- Views of religion that are positive, though amorphous Despite their apparent dissatisfaction with the church, this group has a highly favorable attitude on religion.
However, when it comes to the distinctiveness of Christianity, the narrative is slightly different: The majority of people (55 percent) believe that all faiths fundamentally teach the same thing, which is far closer to the general public (51 percent) than devout Christians (68 percent) and even further away from evangelicals (35 percent) (86 percent ).
- Spirituality in the privacy of one’s own home Because of their long-standing religious affiliation as well as their obviously religious faith, this group does not fit into the category of “spiritual but not religious” people, which will be the subject of next week’s article.
- Almost nine out of ten people (89 percent) describe themselves as “spiritual,” which is on par with devout Christians (90 percent) and significantly higher than the national average (65 percent ).
- More over half of practicing Christians (41 percent) and nearly four times as many evangelicals (67 percent) believe that evangelism and expressing their beliefs are important activities in their lives.
- The “love Jesus but not the church” group thinks strongly that they have a responsibility to proselytize (28 percent), although more than half of practicing Christians (56 percent) and all Evangelicals agree strongly on the subject (50 percent) (100 percent ).
- These beliefs are highly personal, with many choosing to keep their faith a secret from those around them.
- Informal Routes to the Almighty This group continues to be engaged in their faith, but in a less conventional manner than previous generations.
- (26 percent compared to 56 percent ).
The implication of all of this is that people are abandoning authoritative sources of religious identity in favor of faith practices that are much more informal and personally driven.
What the Findings of the Study Imply We will be delving more into the issue of religion outside of the church in the coming weeks, but one thing that stands out among this group of individuals who “love Jesus but don’t love the church” is their unwavering dedication to their faith.
They, on the other hand, have lost trust in the church.
The most important message that churches must convey to this group is that there is a cause for churches to exist in the first place.
Churches must be able to tell these individuals — and demonstrate for themselves — that there is a unique path to discover God that can only be found in church.
Concerning the Investigation 1,281 web-based surveys were administered to individuals over the age of 18 in each of the 50 states, resulting in a representative sample of adults over the age of 18 from each of the 50 states.
In this study, the sampling error is plus or minus 2.9 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level, according to the results.
Millennials are people who were born between 1984 and 2002.
Baby Boomers are those who were born between 1946 and 1964.
Those who attend a religious service at least once a month, who express that their faith is extremely important in their life, and who self-identify as Christians are considered to be practicing Christians.
It is claimed that they have made “a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that is still important in their life today,” that their faith is very important in their lives today; that when they die, they will be admitted to Heaven because they have confessed their sins and accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior; that they have a personal responsibility to share their religious beliefs about Christ with non-Christians; that Satan exists; and that et cetera.
Whether or not you are labeled as an evangelical is not based on your church attendance, the denominational affiliation of the church you attend, or your sense of self-identity.
Barna Research was founded in 1996.
For more than three decades, Barna Group has conducted and analyzed primary research to better understand cultural patterns linked to values, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors. The company is based in Ventura, California. Barna Group published a report in 2017 titled
9 Faith Groups That Deny the Trinity Doctrine
The belief of the Trinity is fundamental to the majority of Christian faiths and religious groups, however it is not true of all of them. The name Trinity does not appear in the Bible, and the notion of the Trinity is difficult to understand and describe. However, the majority of conservative, evangelical Bible experts think that the theology of the Trinity is clearly represented in the Bible. Non-trinitarian religious organizations are those that do not believe in the Trinity. The theory itself was initially proposed by Tertullian at the end of the 2nd century, but it wasn’t universally accepted until the 4th and 5th centuries, when the Church of Rome was reestablished.
9 Non-trinitarian Faiths
Image courtesy of smartboy10 / Getty Images of the Trinity Knot or Triquetra Symbol There are several faiths that deny the notion of the Trinity, the most notable of which are as follows: The following is not a full list, but it does include some of the main religious organizations and movements. An overview of each group’s beliefs on the nature of God is provided, indicating a departure from the idea of the Trinity in certain cases. For the sake of comparison, The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church defines the biblical Trinity belief as follows: “According to Christian theology, the one God lives in three Persons and one essence, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; this is known as trinitarian theism.
Mormonism – Latter-day Saints
Joseph Smith, Jr. founded the company in 1830. Mormons believe that God possesses a physical body made of flesh and bones that exists forever and is flawless. Men have the capacity to ascend to the status of gods as well. As God’s real son, Jesus exists as a separate entity from God the Father, as well as the “older brother” of humanity. The Holy Spirit, like God the Father and God the Son, is a distinct and independent person. The Holy Spirit is seen as an impersonal power or spirit being, rather than as a human individual.
Charles Taze Russell founded the company in 1879. In 1917, he was succeeded by Joseph F. Rutherford. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that God exists as a single individual, known as Jehovah. Jesus was the very first creation of Jehovah. Jesus is not God, and he is not a member of the Godhead. He is a greater being than the angels, yet he is a lower being than God.
The rest of the universe was created by Jehovah via the usage of Jesus. Known as the archangel Michael prior to his arrival on earth, Jesus was the son of God. The Holy Spirit is an impersonal energy emanating from Jehovah, yet it is not the same as God.
Mary Baker Eddy founded the organization in 1879. Christian Scientists believe that the Trinity is comprised of the elements of life, truth, and love. God is the only entity that actually exists since he exists as an impersonal principle. Everything else (even matter) is a deluding delusion. Although Jesus is not God, he is the Son of God. He was the prophesied Messiah, yet he was not a divinity in the traditional sense. According to the principles of Christian Science, the Holy Spirit is divine science.
It was founded by Herbert W. Armstrong in 1934 and is also known as the Philadelphia Church of God, Global Church of God, and United Church of God. Traditional Armstrongism rejects the concept of a triune God, instead seeing God as “a family of persons.” According to traditional teachings, Jesus did not experience a bodily resurrection and the Holy Spirit is a cold, impersonal presence.
Dr. John Thomas founded the company in 1864. As opposed to the three different individuals who reside inside one God, Christadelphians believe God is one indivisible unity. They reject the divinity of Jesus, thinking that he is a totally human being who is distinct from God in every way. Some Christians do not believe that the Holy Spirit is the third member of the Trinity, but rather that he is only a force from God, the “unseen power.”
Frank Ewart founded the company in 1913. People who practice Oneness Pentecostalism believe that there is only one god, and God is that one God. God has presented himself in three ways or “forms” (not as individuals) throughout history: as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. OnenessPentecostals have a problem with the theology of the Trinity, primarily because of its usage of the term “person.” They think that God cannot be three distinct individuals, but rather a single deity who has shown himself in three different ways.
Sun Myung Moon founded the organization in 1954. Unification supporters believe that God exists in both positive and negative aspects, as well as in both masculine and female forms. The cosmos is God’s physical body, which he created. Jesus was not God, but rather a human being. He did not have a bodily resurrection, as some believe. In reality, his purpose on earth was unsuccessful, and it will be completed via the efforts of Sun Myung Moon, who is greater than Jesus. The Holy Spirit has a feminine quality about her.
Unity School of Christianity
Charles and Myrtle Fillmore founded the company in 1889. Unity members believe that God is an invisible, impersonal principle rather than a person, in a manner similar to Christian Science. God is a spiritual power that exists within everyone and everything. Jesus was merely a man, not the Christ, as some believe. He simply came to recognize his spiritual identity as the Christ by striving to achieve his potential for perfection in his daily life.
This is something that every man can accomplish. Jesus was not resurrected from the grave, but rather he was reborn into this world. The Holy Spirit is God’s law in action, and he is the active expression of God’s law. Only the spirit portion of us is real; the material part of us does not exist.
Scientology – Dianetics
L. Ron Hubbard founded the organization in 1954. God, according to Scientology, is defined as Dynamic Infinity. Jesus is neither God, Savior, or Creator, and he does not have authority over supernatural abilities, as is commonly believed. He is frequently forgotten in the field of Dianetics. Aside from that, the Holy Spirit is not present in this religious system either. Human beings are “thetan” – eternal, spiritual creatures with boundless capacities and powers, albeit they are frequently oblivious of their true nature and potential.
- Cults, World Religions, and the Occult, by Kenneth Boa, published by Rose Publishing. Christianity, Cults, and Religions (Chart)
- Cross, F. L., The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church). Oxford University Press published a book in 2005 titled Christian Apologetics is the study of the defense of the Christian faith. Ministry of Research and Development The Trinity Diagram
“I Believe in God, but Not Jesus”
God-talking is a dangerously deluded kind of entertainment. There is an alarmingly large percentage of individuals who claim to “believe in God,” but who do not believe in Jesus. This is especially true in places of the world that are culturally or ostensibly Christian in nature. This is a feeling that can be found almost everywhere. “I believe in the existence of God. My prayers are said first thing in the morning and last thing at night.” “I believe in God,” for example. I’m confident that He has seen me through a lot of difficulties.” “I believe in God,” for example.
- God, for example, is not someone to be trifled with.
- He is to be revered and adored, and he is to be worshipped with reverence and awe.
- His common charity toward creation implies that a whole slew of people who do not know Him are blessed by His kindness in a variety of ways, including release from a difficult circumstance.
- However, we will not rest on our laurels!
- The fact is that it is impossible to believe in God in any way that is truly saving and not come to Him via trust in Jesus as the Son of God.
- Aside from God the Son, we do not have a God the Father in our lives.
No one else can bring anybody else to the Father except through me.
Having so much God talk gives for the appearance of religiosity and faith, but it rejects the power of the Holy Spirit by rejecting the Son of God.
Of course, there is also the inverse issue to consider.
Matthew 11:27, on the other hand, is addressed to them as well: “No one knows the Son but the Father.” Alternatively, John 10:30 states, “I and the Father are one.” “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father,” says Jesus in John 14:9.
The Father and the Son come together in this encounter. It is not possible to have one without the other. Either you have the Father in and through the Son, or you don’t have anything at all. This fundamental fact is obscured by ambiguous God discourse.
Unitarian Universalist Views of Jesus
The views of Unitarian Universalists on Jesus reflect the diversity of thinking fostered by our liberal faith. Our Principles include a dedication to “a free and responsible search for truth and purpose”; whatever one’s beliefs, there is certainly a Unitarian Universalist who holds them as well as one’s beliefs. We are, nevertheless, more than the sum of our particular tales. Universalism, as a religion, draws inspiration from various sources, including the acts and teachings of great teachers, the illuminating knowledge of the world’s diverse religions, and our Jewish and Christian roots.
- UUs may regard Jesus as a moral example who exemplifies the compassion, kindness, and mercy that he preached by living out his teachings.
- For some, Jesus is a prophetic figure who also serves as a conduit for the divine.
- Many people have described a personal interaction with him that has been both strengthening and inspiring.
- Others see Jesus as a reformer and a rebel, as an underdog and as an ally of the oppressed.
- He spoke up against injustice in his local neighborhood as well as in the federal government.
- Jesus invites us to transformation, to oppose the unjust structures that separate us and remodel them for the greater good of everyone.
Rev. Dawn Skjei Cooley
Louisville, Kentucky’s First Unitarian Church is a congregation of Unitarian Universalists. Because I am an agnostic humanist, I have a strong emotional connection to the Jesus depicted in the early Gospels. In this guy, we see a somebody who treated the ill, fed the hungry, and clothed the impoverished. He took action in response to the agony he witnessed because he felt a strong connection to individuals who were suffering. In this regard, he was a revolutionary, as he went outside of the current structures to correct the wrongs of the existing system.
Rev. Scott McNeill
Members of the Bull Run Unitarian Universalists (UUs). Manassas, Virginia A Unitarian Universalist, I delight in reading the Gospels and seeing how Jesus would assist people to solutions rather than simply providing them with the answers they seek. Rather than merely going through the rituals of everyday life, I see Jesus as a person who wanted to address the issues that he saw in his church community and society and to construct the community that he knew was attainable, rather than simply going through the motions of everyday life.
It was only through my de-deification of Jesus that I was able to reconnect with his tale, surrendering the role of messiah for that of a mentor.
Rev. Jonalu Johnstone
Manhattan Unitarian Universalist Fellowship is a religious organization in Manhattan, Kansas. It took years of involvement in and even leadership of Unitarian Universalist churches for me to rediscover the significance of Jesus in my spiritual life. When I first discovered Unitarian Universalism, I was relieved to discover that I didn’t have to know what I thought about God, prayer, or Christianity in order to participate. God—or Goddess—came back to life for me through time, thanks to paganism, which was introduced to me by a fellow Unitarian Universalist sister.
As my career in ministry progressed, I felt increasingly compelled to engage with the Christian tradition on a personal level.
I was horrified by the misapplication of scripture against gay people and against women, but I understood that only by truly owning those stories for myself could I honestly address the injustice that operated against me and against those who needed what church had to give, including myself.
That is one of the reasons why I identify as a Christian today.
DCA Universalist National Memorial ChurchUniversalist National Memorial ChurchWashington, DC Among the many pictures of salvation found in the Bible, the one that resonates with me the most is one that is connected to the root word for salvation, which is salve. In this way, salvation is defined as the process by which God’s healing salve is administered to the human race. Jesus, in my opinion, exemplifies the method in which God would have many of us administer this healing salve to the rest of the world.
Jesus, in my opinion, exhibits healing and demonstrates the power of salvation—a power that we are called to pursue and share as frequently as we can during this life.
The Fahs Collaborative at Meadville Lombard Theological School is a group of people who work together to improve the lives of others. When I was a teenager, I abandoned my Christian faith. However, it was when I looked for a Unitarian Universalist congregation to support my children’s liberal religious education and subsequently began working as their director of religious education that I came face to face with Jesus once more. Although I am an agnostic, I considered him to be a member of an All-Star squad of major religious professors whom I committed to portray with respect so that young people might learn about Christianity alongside other global religions.
However, over the years, I have come to regard him as something like to a seasoned colleague in a difficult sector, someone with whom I share a common professional interest.
In the tale of how Jesus encouraged youngsters to sit with him, one of his most persuasive teachings comes to mind, thanks to my decade of experience in religious education.
We are reminded by his simple gesture of welcoming that young people need to feel claimed by this faith, and he indicates that their amazement and delight could alter us in return.
Making space in our hearts, minds, and congregations for the sake of learning and developing in religion together is what Jesus demands of us.
Rev. Robin Bartlett
MAI grew up as a Unitarian Universalist at the First Church of Sterling. Christmas was the only time that Jesus appeared in the form of a newborn. When someone asked me who Jesus was when I was a youngster, I said, “a mythical character who some people believe to be God.” This response revealed a great deal more about myself and my parents than it did about Christ. Now that I’m married, I have my own children. When I asked my four-year-old Eloisa who Jesus was, she replied that Jesus is the “Queen of God.” Cecilia, my eight-year-old daughter, described him as “the one who is always with me, in my heart.” And these responses are understandable since Eloisa has always wished to be Queen, and Cecilia has always wished to be good to others.
We must respond to Jesus when he asks, “Who do you claim that I am?” because our response reveals a great deal about our vision for the world.
So, if Jesus were here, and he asked me, “Who do you think I am?” I would respond, “Who do you think I am?” or “Can you tell me what you tell your children about me when you’re talking about me?” This is what I would say: “Jesus, I believe you are a person sent by God to demonstrate what love looks like.
You came to loose the bonds of injustice, to make earth as it is in heaven.
- Visit the website of the Unitarian Universalist Christian Fellowship (UUCF). Read Erik Walker Wikstrom’sTeacher, Guide, Companion: Rediscovering Jesus in a Secular World for more information. Scotty McLennan’s Christ for Unitarian Universalists is a good read.
For Your Congregation
The date of publication is September 29, 2020. According to recent research, both atheists and agnostics are remarkably knowledgeable about a wide range of religious traditions. This raises the question of what is the difference between someone who labels themselves as “atheist” and someone who professes to be a “agnostic,” which is frequently asked.
There is an important distinction to be made. An atheist is someone who does not believe in the existence of a divine deity. The term derives from the Greekatheos, which is composed of the words a- (which means “without”) and theos (which means “a deity”). Atheism is defined as the philosophy or belief that there is no such thing as a deity. Anagnostic, on the other hand, is someone who neither believes in nor disbelieves in a deity or religious philosophy. Human beings will never be able to know everything about the universe’s creation or whether or not divine creatures exist, according to agnostic beliefs.
Huxley and derives from the Greek word ágnostos, which literally translates as “unknown or unknowable.” As an illustration:
- Despite the fact that I now consider myself an atheist, I used to attend church on a regular basis as a youngster. The term “agnostic” refers to someone who does not believe in the existence of a supernatural being. The fact that the film was so critical of institutional religion did not surprise us, given the fact that the filmmaker is an open atheist himself.
WATCH:Is “Agnostic” Only About Religion?
To make matters even more complicated, atheists and agnostics are frequently mistaken with theists and deists. In contrast to anatheists, atheists believe in the existence of God. Theists are those who believe in the existence of a deity or a group of gods. Adeists believe in God in the same way as theists do. A deist, on the other hand, thinks that while God created the cosmos, natural laws dictate how the universe will play out in the future.
Isaac Newton’s clockwork universetheory, in which the world is like a clock that has been wound up and put in motion by God but is regulated by the rules of science, is typically associated with the deist movement. As an illustration:
- As an atheist, Edgar has had to face a number of heated debates with theists who have attempted to persuade him to accept their point of view. Despite the fact that he denied some features of Christianity, such as miracles and resurrection, many academics have labeled Thomas Jefferson an adeist. However, he most certainly believed in God
Whether you are religious or not, you probably say farewell on a regular basis. But were you aware of the religious significance of the word?
Why People Believe in God, But Not Religion
According to the most recent religious polls conducted in the United States, between a fourth and a third of Americans identify as “spiritual but not religious,” depending on the study. This is something that many of my friends identify with. From “I believe in a higher power with whom I interact and pray” to “I believe in God, so why would I bother going to church?” their beliefs cover a broad spectrum. A number of Jesus’ teachings, in particular, are admired and followed by some, while others do not claim membership in any one spiritual organization or tradition.
The Church’s teachings on politics, money, and moral concerns don’t sit well with me.
And if I choose one, am I implying that I believe all other religions are incorrect or that I believe I will burn in hell?” Nonetheless, despite all of their doubts, my friends tell me that they have a deep sense of belonging to something greater than themselves in their hearts.
I’d want to share some of the insights I’ve taken away from those discussions.
Feed the fire
The people who are the most spiritually alive are those who never give up their search. If you have any queries, don’t hesitate to ask them. If you want answers, you must seek them out. Read, research, debate, pray, and worship. The fact is that you are neither the first or the last person to go on this trip, and the vast bulk of human experience indicates that there are genuine solutions to be found. The majority of religious traditions teach that God is boundless, enigmatic, and unfathomable – yet that humans may nonetheless learn and understand a great deal about him.
The same is true of God: we can grow to know him even if He remains a mystery to us at first.
As the Good Book says, “Seek and you shall find,” so do your research. This is critical, regardless of whether you are religious or not. The never-ending search aids the spiritual seeker in his or her quest for answers and prevents the religious person from being mired in boring ritualism.
The folks, according to one of my college classmates, were the reason he quit attending Mass in the midst of our freshman year. His theory was that those who went to church on Sunday were either hypocrites — having gone to church on Saturday after binge-drinking and random hook ups — or blind sheep just following their parents’ instructions. As a religious person, his experience prompted me to consider the question: Am I self-righteous? Is it possible that I am a hypocrite who talks the talk but doesn’t practice the walk?
Is it possible that I’m allowing people to do my thinking for me?
Isn’t it true that I’m likewise flawed and hypocritical in certain ways?
Is it possible that I’m allowing the inadequacies of others to stand in the way of my spiritual development?
Being part of a team
Perhaps this explains why so much of St. Paul’s work (1 Corinthians, Ephesians, and Galatians, to name a few examples) is devoted to educating flawed individuals how to negotiate community conflicts: conflict is a necessary component of the community’s purpose. It is possible that Jesus could have said, “All right, now everybody listen to my words, but then do your own thing and don’t get in each other’s way,” if He had desired to do so. But He didn’t; instead, He gathered a group of people (in Greek, the word isekkelsia; in English, the name “Church”), gave them a mission (to live and seek the kingdom of God on earth as if it were in heaven), and appointed leaders (apostles) to lead them.
And, despite the fact that community might be frustrating, it can also be a wonderful support system.
The list could go on indefinitely.
Once upon a time, a great spiritual guide taught me that religion is dead without spirituality, and that spirituality is lost without religion is lost. Religion becomes simple tradition if it is not accompanied by a strong personal spirituality — mindless conformity to the rules of the game. As Jesus put it, religion has become “whitewashed tombs” – beautiful on the appearance, but filled with rotting corpses from within. Because of the lack of a strong religious group, spirituality becomes completely personal, centered on my own ideas, wishes, and whims.
God’s blessings on you, no matter where you are in your spiritual path.
A prayer from St. Benedict that I believe everyone may pray, regardless of their religious or nonreligious beliefs. Here is the prayer in its entirety: I ask you to locate a peaceful place where you may read it aloud and pray it with an open mind and heart.