Arriving home last Sunday and keen to make the most of the early summer sun, I whipped up a ‘whatever is left in the fridge’ salad and headed for the deck. Munching away, I was keen to read Frederick J. Tritton’s The Discipline Of Prayer (Pendle Hill Pamphlet No.42) but couldn’t get past this passage on the first page:
We are critical and analytical, rather than appreciative and creative, and this tendency at its worst leads to a habit of pulling things to pieces, including other people’s reputations. Some persons simply cannot resist it, and we are all to some extent infected by the complaint.
While I am not conscious of pulling anyone’s reputation to pieces, I am indeed infected by the same complaint. I am keen to pursue a simple faith which I can model to others and yet I am often too vocal about my struggle with much of the stuff that ‘religion’ and ‘church’ tends to involve. On occasion, I find myself over-analysing and criticising rather than being conciliatory and appreciative and I spend a good deal of time wishing I could be more constructive and creative.
I want to be involved in a faith community and be part of seeking a way to tackle the issues that seem to plague ‘church’ as we commonly see and experience it. However, I struggle to reconcile my belief in God and my faith with the doctrine and the orthodoxy of mainstream religion and I find myself failing to exhibit the behaviours I hope to see in others. Unlike Paul in 2 Corinthians, I seem unable to find strength or, indeed, even grace in my weakness.
That said, I pursue and seek answers in scripture for, while it is the source of the limitless interpretation, literalism and biblicism that abound, I believe that it is through understanding it better in my own context that I will progress in my journey.
I also read a good deal of non-fiction works on faith and religion to increase my understanding and Tony Jones has recently blogged about two titles which have caught my interest and which I will add to my reading list. The first is The Bible Made Impossible: Why Biblicism Is Not a Truly Evangelical Reading of Scripture by Christian Smith and the second The King Jesus Gospel: The Original Good News Revisited by Scot McKnight. They won’t provide the ultimate answer – of that I’m certain – but they may help with the next step of my walk.