A Theological Appendix

You—my reader—may be asking yourself, "When will all of this self-focused blabber end!?" I have spent 6 years of my life and $60K figuring out what I believe, so please don't ask me to finish without at least a short appendix on my theology as it has developed to this point.

First, the epistemology question (that is, how can we know anything at all about God?): I believe that we can speculate about God justifiably, based upon our
experiences, traditions and scriptures. We're human, and our knowledge is limited, so we can never be sure. However, that shouldn't stop us from forming the opinions which we think are best, because these are important questions. (Hope and morality depend in many ways upon what we believe about God.) My opinions are based primarily on my experiences which seem to reveal God, my understanding of scripture and the teachings of Christ, and the tradition in which I have been raised. Am I sure I'm right? No. For me, religion is as much about hoping that something is true as actually believing it. Am I happy enough with my beliefs to act out on them? Yes. I find that I can only believe things that I think will lead to beneficial actions whether they are literally true or not. Am I probably wrong on most questions of faith? Yes. God, if God exists, is indefinable, and there really aren't any precisely "right" answers which can be grasped by the human mind.

Second, the main issues:

For me, the most important theological questions are where is God, who is God, why does the world seem so screwed up, and how does faith require us to behave.

1: Where is God? I think that God is both transcendent and imminent. That is, God exists apart from the world, but also in the world. We live and move and have our being in God. That's why we experience God in nature, other persons, and our experiences. That is also why Christians talk about the presence of the Holy Spirit, Jews talk about God's Shekinah Glory, etc. That's why humanity has always developed religion. God was also present most fully in Jesus of Nazareth, who—I still affirm—was, and will be, the savior of the world.

2. Who is God? God is Love. God is the creator. God was in Christ. God is in the world in the Holy Spirit. God is the redeemer. God is the source of hope. God isn't a man or a woman.

3. Why does the world seem so screwed up? Because it is. I don't know why—I spent a third of a thesis examining why, and I have to say I don't know why. I think overly optimistic readings of the goodness of humanity or nature are nauseating, because evil is overwhelming for so many people. My best guess is that the God of love is in some way absent from the world—probably out of necessity—hence, we suffer pain and evil. I can only believe in a God who doesn't accept the world as it is though, and who will ultimately redeem it—that is, remove evil from the world. That's the beauty of the cross—the image of God suffering with his creation so that it can be redeemed.

4. How does faith require us to behave? Out of love for God, neighbor and creation, to the best of our ability. That's subjective, but so is everything else humans believe.

I believe a lot more than this, but these four questions really consume most of my mental energy.