What Runs Deep in You?

Lately I’ve been reflecting on the real, core, not negotiable stuff of my faith – the stuff that I have come to consider utterly essential and formative.

I know we have the creeds and statements of faith, but I’m not really trying to come from that angle. The question I am pondering is, ‘after 40 odd years of following Jesus what have I come to ‘know‘ deep in my heart as absolutely critical to the establishment of a strong and well formed faith.

I’m still mulling it around, but I feel like I definitely have a few things I could throw out there with deep conviction. And by ‘deep conviction’ I am talking about experiential knowledge that is affirmed by scripture, rather than simple theological assertion. These would be the things that keep me going, the things I come back to time and again to form my discipleship and these are things that I would fight for. These things help me make sense of faith when it seems beyond comprehension or even absurd.

So before I throw my list out there, try this yourself. It will take you a little while so don’t try and do it between now and reading the next sentence 🙂

What are the non-negotiable core elements of your faith – and base your answer around your experience of faith so far. Obviously the reflections of a 21 year old with limited experience of faith will be different to those of an 81 year old who has followed Jesus for a very long time. That’s ok. It’s a valuable exercise – to be able to articulate what is rock solid, immovable and that inspires you to keep going even on days you may feel like quitting.

I hear the word ‘deconstruction’ more and more each week – it is certainly ‘trending’ and i’m a big fan of people re-thinking and grappling with their faith. If you haven’t changed your mind on some aspect of theology in the last 20 years then you probably haven’t grown or been challenged! The outcome of deconstruction can be a more mature and robust faith – except where there no foundations to deconstruct.

By that I mean, if you can’t articulate some things that are essential to your faith from deep in your gut – not from a spiel you read on the back of the church bulletin – then you are in danger. – serious danger You could very well jump on the deconstructing train and soon after find yourself sitting in a mass of theological rubble. And in that mass of rubble the Christian faith may appear weak, maybe lacking in substance and cohesion – but can I suggest a reason for that is perhaps you never really ‘got it‘. Perhaps a collection of ideas formed in your head about how life should be, based on what you heard in church. This formed your ‘theology’, but you never really came to a place of experiencing God in a way that seared those theological ideas into your soul and that gave form to your practice of faith. You were only ever grappling with theological constructs – splashing in the shallows.

But if you are able to frame your ideas from a place of real experience of God in partnership with real interaction with scripture, then I sense you will be articulating a faith that has come from the depths of your being and your own wrestle with God and scripture. Anyone can google the Nicene creed, or if you really want to raise the bar, the Westminster Confession 47 pages of bedside reading. (Seriously – can anyone honestly say they agree with and subscribe to all 47 pages of that document?)

I’ve been engaged in this exercise over the last few months and slowly refining my list. It’s an activity with a specific purpose. As we engage with other churches in an itinerant service capacity I would like to be able to say ‘this is who I am – this is what runs deep and has marked me.’

It isn’t comprehensive. I didn’t steal it from anybody else’s blog (nor did I use chat GPT to form it… ) Interestingly my list makes no explicit mention of mission, or worship or the Holy Spirit… and probably a lot of other stuff too now that I think about it… But that’s ok – it doesn’t need to.

So before i post my list of 6 core ideas that shape my faith why not take some time to form up your own. And hear it again – these aren’t well formed theological statements that you read in a Millard Eriksen textbook – these are truths that you have come to know personally in your journey of faith thus far.

Maybe just throw me one… let me know what really matters to you…

Tip – if you make a list and it doesn’t excite you or make you feel inspired then you might be thinking on the wrong frequency.

Love to hear your thoughts…

3 thoughts on “What Runs Deep in You?

  1. I like it. I used to do this every 5 years – try to put down “my theology”. Was interesting seeing how it developed over the years.
    What advice do you have for someone though, who finds themselves in the deconstructed rubble with nothing much left?

  2. I spent 10 years (ending about 6 years ago now) trying to answer the question “does the lived experience/practice of my faith **require** god to actually exist.” (Think Grand Inquisitor as a seed thought).

    The 10 years were spent in leadership, “wander”ship, theology, monastic retreats, denominational “tours”, reflection, journaling, prayer.

    At the end, the conclusion was “no”. I guess (assuming you are correct) I never “got it” in the first place.

    Now I’m a much happier, simpler atheist.

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