And Jacob Digged a Well : Faith in the Twenty-First Century

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2012-05-02
  • Publisher: Textstream
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Can one be a secular Christian or an agnostic Christian? At its core, being a “Christian” means consciously choosing to follow the teachings of Jesus, what the medieval theologian Thomas à Kempis (1380-1471) called Imitatio Christi, the imitation of Christ. However, it is not simply doing what Jesus did or would do, but using his received teachings as a guide. The writer of John’s Gospel realized that we would be able to do more than Jesus did. With new understandings of relationships, we will do things differently from what he did. While many will disagree, being a Christian has little, if anything, to do with affirming a particular set of doctrines or beliefs. Nor does it ask the trite question, “What Would Jesus Do?” We can ask what he taught, but we have no right to make him say things that he would have had no knowledge of. We can ask if what he taught still applies in our time and place. We cannot claim that what he did and said was valid for all times and in all places. To be a Christian, it is not necessary to confess the trinitarian Christ of Nicaea. It does means, at the very least, to seek truth wherever it may be found, to show compassion, and to seek justice for the powerless and the abused. It is sufficient to act in the humane manner that Jesus of Nazareth taught—love of neighbor, love of self, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, welcoming the stranger, caring for the sick and needy, care for those cast off by society, care for the environment, and the refusal to allow religious beliefs and ceremonies to get in the way of doing these things. It is sufficient to discover “God” in the outreached hand of need and in the giving hand of sharing and lifting up.

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