Fear Of Whales

Tales of a reluctant minister

Writing another Faith Statement

with 2 comments

I’m smiling to myself here at the coffee shop as I begin to write another personal statement of faith. I’ve written at least five previously. One might expect that the process would become easier with practice, or perhaps harder as my faith grows in complexity. In my case however, I find myself slamming against the same hurdle every time.

The objective is to write something unique, and descriptive. I know that you want to read something that speaks to who I am as an individual in my relationship to God and the Christian tradition. I search myself therefore for descriptions of my unique perspective on Christianity, and then cut myself off at the knees by attempting to focus on those beliefs which are most important.

For me, the beliefs which are most important are least unique. The essential beliefs of the Christian faith are those about which we all agree. Jesus is Lord, fully divine and fully human, he died on the cross and rose again bodily. I cannot do better in this regard than the great creeds which already exist, they say it more articulately, more accurately, and with more authority than I can.

On the other hand those aspects of the faith which are most unique to me, and most descriptive of my personality, are those which I regard as least important. They are not convictions, they are preferences. I think a lot, and experiment with new tools and new expressions. Like to engage scripture in group conversation, and I prefer the narrative portions to the poetic. I love evangelism and mission, and my favorite, most transcendent experiences of God tend to come from the gutter, rather than the sanctuary. There is not a word of that however, which is not subject to change and grow as I do.
I don’t introduce this tension to fill space. Through the process of writing and rewriting statements of faith for various governing bodies I’ve come to see significance in the tension. The most meaningful expression of my faith which I can muster seems to lie in this tension itself. I am a person who is uniquely and particularly preoccupied with this tension. I have a relationship to God which is unlike anyone else who has ever lived, but more importantly, I have a faith which is very much like every other Christian in the history of the world.
I believe in God the Father Almighty…


Written by RyanGaffney

April 8, 2015 at 8:45 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

2 Responses

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  1. First off… Why? Why write statement(s) of faith? What is the purpose?

    I figure it is plain for all to see except me. The only way I sense it is important is where I imagine a world without it (them), but even then, I am not motivated much. Perhaps it is just tooooooo fundamental or something. I don’t know. But I would like to.

    For me this is closely akin to asking: Does God exist?

    Why ask it? Are we all would-be evolutionists if we don’t have this settled? I hardly believe that. And for that matter, the only people I ever met who ask the question are those who already answer it with a “YES.” And yet, this is a regular exercise of many a Bible study.

    I once blogged on the topic: Thank God for Evolution! And my point was that in my faith heritage (and almost all of them I am familiar with) place such an emphasis on soteriology – and traditionally a dualist eschatological soteriology at that – that our only functional purpose in opening the Book of Genesis is to argue against the Theory of Evolution – something 99.9% of us already claimed we had settled anyway. But as I grew to see my faith as a Creational Monotheist (to use dry tech terms for it) and studied Genesis afresh, I found it far more engaged in the will of God really, and almost completely ignorant of the arguments with evolution! I mean, what did David read Genesis for??? He wasn’t concerned with arguing against Darwin, so what did he find important in that text??? and can I find something similar?

    So… in my mind boiling down my BELIEFS to the core essentials and making a formal or formulaic statement of them serves … what? And how important is that exercise?

    Jesus is Lord! Check.

    He died for my sins and rose again. Check.

    His rule over creation saves the world. Check.

    His mother was a virgin. Check

    And of course these things are important. But why the exercise? Why the recital of them? What purpose is served?

    I am not being rhetorical. I am asking. I care. But I don’t get it.

    Thanks for the blog. It blesses me.


    Agent X

    March 30, 2016 at 7:31 am

  2. Wish I could edit my previous comment. It is missing a summary sentence wedged in between the Genesis analogy and my return to question of Faith Statements.

    I should have noted there that I thank God for evolution because if we had not had Darwin to argue against, I am not sure I would have the book of Genesis bequeathed to me from my heritage. I think they would have let it drop out of the cannon. But thank God they kept is as a door stop or a paper weight lying around so that when I picked it up to examine it, I found its treasures.

    Anyway, I sincerely hope that statements of faith hold such treasure, but as of this juncture in my life, I don’t see it (them).


    Agent X

    March 30, 2016 at 7:36 am

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