This morning I applied for a teaching job.
There is nothing about that act that should be out of the ordinary, stressful, or otherwise challenging to my psyche. The job is for a position with my college alma mater and it is something I have dreamed of many times. I have the fondest of memories of being at that school. I have no doubt I am qualified. I have no doubt I can do it. I have a few reservations about the prospect of being expected to pursue a doctorate, but even that is certainly well within my capabilities.
The ethical dilema reared its ever present head when the question of personal faith appeared on the application. Plain and simple:
What is your religious faith? Church of Christ or Other? If other, please explain.
Seeing as to how important that CoC part is to the organization to which I am applying, I defaulted to that option. After all, it is my faith heritage.
Next came the sworn statement about upholding the values and beliefs of the CoC.
After a long pause, I checked “Yes, I will.”
You might wonder how in good conscious and total honesty I can still claim a Church of Christ faith, especially considering some of the intense posts I have composed in the past year. It’s really pretty simple.
The basic premise of the Churches of Christ is to be like the first century church. In other words, the stated objective is essentially immitate as closely as possible the man called Jesus of Nazareth and his followers before, during, and after his death.
I hold to the majority of those beliefs.
I believe that there is something greater than me that is a part of me and I am a part of it.
I believe it is our responsibility as human beings to share our resources and help ease the suffering of those whose circumstances are a source of misery and hunger.
I believe in the importance of loving not only my neighbor, but my enemy as well.
I believe Jesus questioned and challenged authority and tradition at every level and encouraged his followers to do likewise.
I believe that a person who chooses to live by the fruits of the spirit will be much happier and will bring happiness to those who enter our lives.
I believe our thoughts shape who and what we are and will become.
I believe in the concept of believing as if we have already received.
I believe that the performance of a ritual such as baptism or communion to signify a commitment to these concepts can be an important part of a person’s spiritual journey.
I believe the Bible has much wisdom to offer those who turn its pages and consume its texts.
I believe in the importance of questioning tradition, authority, and assumptions.
I believe “the church” was intended to be a source of unconditional brotherly love.
I love a cappella music. Oh, and instrumental music, too.
However, there are many ideas held by some individuals within the group that identifies itself as the Church of Christ with which I cannot currently accept as a part of my personal belief system.
I do not believe it is appropriate to take literally, declare as sacred, and apply as law for today a collection of writings compiled by a group of men, translated numerous times by hand from a variety of languages, which were written with a particular culture and ideas as its focus.
I do not believe a religion in which torture and murder of those who questioned the leadership and status quo can be viewed as authentic and completely accurate.
I do not believe the many contradictions, inconsistencies, and unanswered questions can or should be dismissed by stating that we as mere humans cannot understand the mind of God.
I do not believe that sparing the rod has spoiled the child.
I do not believe God cares whether or not we use intruments in making music.
I do not believe that all homosexuality is a choice and that those with such feelings should be denied sexual satisfaction and happiness or risk being labeled as sinners.
I do not believe “the church” as a whole has been a source of unconditional brotherly love. On the contrary, I believe the church has used religion as an excuse to be prejudicial, exclusive and hateful toward those who experience life differently from the norm.
I do not believe it is appropriate to request that we not all be lumped together because “not all Christians are like that”. We should be policing our own and recognize that we are in fact our brother’s keeper. The wacko Christian that just killed 90+ people IS our problem. We created him. By the same token, Muslim extremism IS the problem of the Islamic religion and its people. Both are dangerous. Neither embodies the concept of love advocated by its object of worship.
I do not believe religion has any place in the making of laws of our government if we are in fact a “freedom of religion” state.
I do not believe religion is the ultimate answer to drought, hunger, mental disorders, marital problems , and suffering in general. Such belief tends to make matters worse, not better.
I do not believe silencing the questions will save the sanctity of the organization. Pursecuting and punishing those who would publicly raise the tough and challenging questions assures that a group of people are NOT true followers of Jesus.
I do not believe in the law of silence. Just because the chosen writers didn’t record it in black and white doesn’t make it an abomination to God.
I do not believe the Bible accurately and clearly portrays the entity we refer to as God. If so, we have a very bi-polar and confusing deity.
I do not believe Paul is the ultimate authority on Christian worship and behavior.
I do not believe the words of Paul, Peter, John, Timothy, and others should be taken above those of Jesus.
I do not believe in black and white, nor do I think Jesus did either. If he did, he would have cast the first stone at the “sinful” women he encountered.
There are probably many more things I could add to this list, and some that may some day be removed as my questions evolve and my spirituality matures. Until then, I hope that my desire to be like the great teacher who taught love as the greatest commandment will be enough to make me worthy to be a teacher as well.
To quote the great teacher, “…So who do you say that I am?”