I have come to believe

Our beliefs about God change, and change they must as we understand something fresh about the ‘mystery’ that is God. I from time to time listen to Peter Enns and his podcasts. Peter describes himself as a ‘German left-brained’ person, and he has both a serious intellect and an honesty that led him to resign from a career position. This podcast is worth listening to in its own right and in the light of the previous posts I think it carries a relevance here. I pick up on one aspect:

[John Wesley] He’s the 18th-Century founder of the Methodist movement. And the Quadrilateral is, I mean one way of putting it, it’s a way of explaining how we arrive at our beliefs about God. And quadrilateral, there are four things that sort of work together and they’re scripture, our tradition that we’re a part of, our reasoning ability, and our life experiences. So, scripture, tradition, reason, experience. And these four things, they’re always influencing each other, or better, they interpenetrate each other. None exists in isolation from the others, and none can just survive on its own.

For example, if we’re trying to understand whether, say, let’s just pick a totally hypothetical scenario, if we’re trying to understand whether one can be gay and a Christian, what are you going to do? Well, one is certainly going to engage scripture, that’s part of the church’s tradition, the church at large, you don’t ignore the Bible, you’re always dealing with it somehow. But how one engages scripture is informed by, well, the particular Christian tradition that we might be a part of. It’s also influenced by our ability to reason through things and discern. And it’s also influenced by our experiences as human beings. The life of faith involves not just reading the Bible and like getting objective truth from it, but rather, it involves our whole being, our traditions, our reasoning and our experiences. That’s why people who differ can actually enlighten each other. We bring different things to the table, different angles from which to look at something very complicated.

Another aspect that I found interesting in the podcast was his consideration that historically evangelicalism grew as a reaction to fundamentalism, and that evangelicalism has in many parts collapsed into fundamentalism, so much so that he maintains that there are numerous people on the ‘born again’ side of things who could not be described historically as evangelical.