The past few weeks my Bible study class has been winding down, focusing on the New Testament and a "where do we go from here" mentality. While there are still several more weeks in the class, one of our "assignments" for the class was to prepare an individual statement of faith. Such statement would be incorporated with others to make a composite, or group, statement of faith for the class.
It was interesting to hear my classmate's statements, and in particular, how similar they were. I imagine this is a good thing; all are members of the same church, have been for awhile, and it make sense to have a similarity or a consistency among them. Their statements of faith dealt with belief, i.e., this is what I believe. Most statements were fairly similar to the beginning of the Nicene Creed. As I was listening to the statements, I was also struck how different mine was from the rest. In many ways this is not surprising, I tend to be unconventional when it comes to matters of faith, religion, and spirituality. Much of our discussions in the past few weeks have centered on the concept of "faith alone" versus "faith and works," a central point of contention between Catholics and Protestants, at least during the Reformation period. I was not taking either view really, but rather contending that any sense of "faith" must be present in actions and deed, not thought or speech. The simple version being that talk is cheap, deeds matter.
I struggle at times conveying what I mean in this regard, but I was never positing that deeds "earned" anything, which I think is a hanging point for many people of Christian backgrounds when discussing this issue. For Christianity, salvation is not earned in any sense, it is given and has to be accepted. While I think there are semantics muddying the issue a bit (when don't I?), this wasn't really the end sought for the positions I discussed. Rather, (again, some semantics here), to me, faith is not belief, it is action. Thus, for me, when asked to have an individual statement of faith, I am not thinking about what I believe, but what I should do. Which is why the statement of faith I presented to the class had no nouns.
"Be Mindful. Be Compassionate. Be Humble. Seek Justice. Seek Truth. Seek Peace."