[comment] I guess that I'm confused about the heretic label you've bestowed upon yourself, for after reading most every post here, I don't think that I see anything heretical -- a very heavy word. … You seem to be professing that you don't really know what to profess -- so long as it’s genuine.
Ah, the short answer is that I am heretical because I choose not to accept any of the doctrinal dogma of Christianity as it is generally understood in our culture.
The longer answer goes like this: My understanding of the nature of spiritual reality is in direct opposition to the teachings about God and humanity and the relationship between the two that I learned growing up. When I left Evangelicalism (the only version of True Christianity that I knew), I threw absolutely every belief I’d ever been taught into the recycle bin: there was not a single thing that I considered sacrosanct. I even tried very hard to be an atheist but found that my mystical and psychic experiences made that philosophical position pretty laughable.
After some twenty years as a non-Christian seeker of Wisdom, I realized a few very basic Truths that have now become my personal Fundamentals. These are the mantras I’ve been chanting to my daughters since they were old enough to hear:
Treat people the way they want to be treated.
Share the Resources.
It's not funny if someone isn't laughing.
Charity begins at home.
Follow the money.
What goes around, comes around.
People are stupid everywhere; everyone is stupid sometimes; don't be any more stupid than you have to be.
Don't do anything that can get you pregnant until you are ready to welcome a baby, you're not ready for a baby until you pick out a good daddy. (Okay, this one may not be strictly philosophical but darn good advice!)
Here are a few more favorites that pepper the spontaneous sermonizing I do while about my daily business:
God is the creative force.
Hell is other people.
We are Imago Dei (humanity is the face of the divine)
If it is Truth, it is True across Time and Culture.
There are no Either/Or’s—they are always Both/And.
The opposite of a truth is a lie; the opposite of a profound Truth is another profound Truth.
The personal is always political.
Good leaders serve of their people.
Seek and ye shall find (and the flip side: you always find what you go looking for)
God gave us brains; he must expect us to use them.
The measure of holiness, regardless of religious culture, is characterized by love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, humility and self-control.
And the most profound truth of all: Honor the divine, however you find it. Nothing else matters.
As far as I can tell from my studies, none of my personal Fundamentals is contradicted by either Christian Scripture or the preponderance of nearly three millennia of theologians from any of the world’s Wisdom traditions.
As for the established Christian Fundamentals, I find very little evidence of truth to satisfy my rational mind. Mostly I found only parochial interpretations of tradition and scripture to support the dogma. So, I refuse to confess the creeds or to give intellectual assent to most, if any, of the central doctrines. When I first came back to Christianity, I even doubted the historical existence of Jesus himself. Now I am willing to concede the likelihood of a historical Jesus of Nazareth, a radical iterant teacher who ran afoul of the Establishment and managed to get executed, but I still think a historical Jesus is irrelevant to the spiritual truth of Christianity.
I have not found convincing argument indicating the validity of anything like Biblical Inerrancy or even that the Gospel Truth is in any way historical truth. Theological constructs such as the Virgin Birth, God in Three Persons or any other version of the Trinity, Deity of Christ (or in fact the deity of God), Original Sin, or even the historicity of the Resurrection or its physical necessity for spiritual redemption are, in my opinion, best understood from an allegorical point of view—as meditative tools or mythology that illustrates ineffable realities—rather than literal fact.
Being a true scientist, I am not arrogant enough to think that none of these doctrines could be absolute truth. I am only saying that there is not, nor can there be, any way to prove one way or another what the literal truth of these doctrines might be. And I choose to define the terms of spiritual reality differently, based on alternate interpretations of Scripture, current scientific thought in nearly every field of study, and my own experiences—all subject to change as I and all other scientists continue to ask questions, seek answers, and find more questions.
I have read extensively this last year on Christian theology, doctrine, church history, and my ever-favorite mystics. I figured I was pretty well versed in the Evangelical dogma so I concentrated on specifically non-Evangelical sources—my favorites are listed in the Bibliography, Etc. page but that is only the tip of the reading iceberg. I was more than a little dismayed to find how few writers I agreed with who were still identifying themselves as Christians and that none of those who did escaped rabid accusations of heresy. Then I realized that I was in the best company of all: Jesus himself was the first heretic in Christian history. He was a Jewish heretic, to be sure, but heretical nonetheless. If my claim to being Christian is that I follow the life and teaching of Jesus, heresy is a pretty good place to start!
Interestingly, while I was a heathen and espousing these ideas, no one much cared. Non-Christians I knew took most of my conclusions for granted and Christians apparently considered me so far beyond the pale that I wasn’t worth arguing with. But now that I have started to call myself a Christian again and I still hold to the same ideas, suddenly I get Hebrews (here and here) preached at me. It didn’t seem to matter to anyone but me that I risked my immortal soul by not accepting the deity of Christ when I was a heathen but a heretic who questions the same is apparently destined to special damnation. As a heathen, I was generally well-respected; as a heretic, I am threatened with hellfire scare tactics by Christians and regarded akin to a first-grader who refuses to learn her ABC’s by non-Christians.
With all due respect to the commenter who wondered why I identify myself as a heretic, I call myself a heretic because I am heretical. I put it right in the title so that no one reading my posts can be too surprised when I out some of my more outré ideas—truth in advertising, so to speak. I don’t want anyone to have reason to feel betrayed when they discover that I don’t toe the party line.
The over-arching theme in this blog is that all of Christianity can be, and was by Jesus himself, reduced to a very simple premise: love God, love your neighbor, love your enemy. Nothing else matters. Everything else is an add-on and a potential distraction from the Truth. I don’t want my own heresy to be a similar point of distraction from that Truth. In my own journey, owning my heresy has been crucial to understanding the radical simplicity of Jesus’ teaching, perhaps someone following my blog will find it equally liberating.