Growing up Mormon, I remember a song we used to sing. Our faith was based on the firm foundation of Divine Inspiration, upon a Bible and the teachings of modern day prophets sent by God to tell us what God wanted us to know, to tell us how to live our lives, where we were to find meaning and purpose, who we were and what we were supposed to be.
How firm is that foundation, really?
Untold millions of Christians, each and every day, live out their lives secure in teachings that predicate their entire existence upon the inerrancy of the Bible, upon the virtue of their teachers, upon the God-given nature of what they are told to be, what they are instructed to believe, what their purpose and meaning is supposed to be.
Is that really the Rock that Jesus told Peter to build his faith upon?
There are Christians who will openly say that if the Earth is not *exactly* six thousand years young, according to the calculations given to them by their specific preacher then the whole of the Bible is false and life, the universe, and everything is completely without meaning or purpose.
So how certain is a given person’s faith? How firm is the foundation upon which that person has built their house? Will it truly stand when the rains come and the winds blow and all the power of creation bears down upon it?
I can’t answer for everyone and I’m not even going to try. I can only answer for myself.
I have no preacher who stands up between me and Heaven to interpret Scripture for me. I do my own reading and interpreting, though there are some I listen to because they have researched things that I have not. I do not, though, view them as having any more “authority” than I do.
I no longer believe that the role of a Prophet is to stand up in leadership of anything. Prophets, I believe, are to be the “voice crying from the wilderness”, the ones keeping the leadership honest by reminding them of their failings and pointing out for the world to see when the Emperor has no clothes. I have no “divinely inspired” leadership to tell me what God intends for my life to be, or my purpose either.
I do not need for the Biblical Record to be a historically accurate description of the Creation of the world. The world exists. It had a beginning. If the Creation Story is just that, a story created by human beings to explain how we came into being and why things are messed the hell up, then I’m okay with that.
I call myself a Christian and I hold quite closely to the person of Jesus, the Divine Being who thought so highly of this world and the experience of living that he incarnated himself as the son of a woman who was betrothed to a man but not yet his wife, who came to Earth and reduced himself to the stature of one of his creations so that he could feel the wind on his face and the coolness of water running through his hands, who loved the marginalized and the oppressed so much that he allowed himself to be murdered by a government that was threatened by a message that the meek and the lowly are just as valuable to Heaven as they were, a message of empowerment to those who were disenfranchised…
I love my Jesus and I love the message of his story. I take his name upon myself in gladness because I want to be like Jesus, like the Jesus that I understand him to be. Lord knows I’m not perfect and I never will be. But I don’t have to be, either.
My faith is based on something far stronger than any human being.
As much as I love Jesus and I love his message, if it were revealed tomorrow that none of it was true, if incontrovertible proof was revealed that a cabal of men in the first century sat around and invented the whole of it out of their imaginations… what would I lose?
While Christians the world over would be losing their faith, their minds, their purpose and meaning to a very real despair, I would lose… precisely nothing. My faith doesn’t depend on a book being fact.
What matters to me is that this life, this existence, is fundamentally important and valuable and to be cherished. What matters to me is that the marginalized and oppressed have value and deserve to be lifted up, to be respected and accepted for no other reason than they are human beings and human beings are worthy of respect and acceptance.
The notion that something created out of human imagination informs and inspires me to be a better person tomorrow than I am today… is not something I find threatening in the least. I already know this feeling, this inspiration and I find it an old friend when I have nothing else in the darkness. It matters nothing to me if the Jesus I reached out to as a child in terror of Eternity swirling about my feet as a gaping maelstrom is simply a figment of someone’s imagination. I have reached out to figments of human imagination for decades now and been no worse for it.
The Creator God of Pokémon, who came down to tell all sentient beings to work together and to be friends while respecting individual gifts and abilities; a family of misfits on a Firefly-class spaceship just trying to survive in the skies that no one can take from them; wolf-blooded elves struggling to survive in a world that isn’t really their own and yet they made it their own all the same; a mad man in a blue box; all these give me hope and direction and connection to other human beings through a shared belief system informed by tales and experiences created out of the human imagination.
I lose nothing. My faith does not need the Bible to be accurate because I already know that the essence of the story it tells, the way human beings reach for the divine within and without themselves, the way I want to be a better person tomorrow than I am today… these things are True in every way that actually matters.
My faith is built on a foundation of Truth that transcends mere accuracy. I find it to be a very firm foundation to be certain.