Sustainable Faith



One of the earliest christocentric statements of faith comes from the apostle Peter. After Jesus asks his disciples what others are saying about him, he points the question at them: “And who do you say I am?” Peter answers simply: “You’re the Messiah”. In his understanding, he likely meant, “I believe God has singled you out to rescue us from the Romans and restore all that we as a people have lost.” Peter was mostly clueless about the nature of the rescue and restoration this Messiah would provide, but his response delighted Jesus, who said, “Blessed are you … for my Father in heaven has revealed this to you.”

We get something of the same from one of the two criminals executed with Jesus. The unnamed man hanging beside Jesus offers nothing approximating a modern statement of faith. It’s more a hope that Jesus is in fact some unrecognized king who will acquire some unnamed kingdom. And with this hope he throws a Hail Mary pass, an 11th hour humble request to be remembered post-mortem by Jesus. Once again, this is enough for Jesus, who kindly says, “Today you’ll be in paradise with me.”

Paul singles out the core elements of his gospel to be that Christ died for our sins, was buried, was resurrected on the third day, and then appeared to numerous people alive at that time. (1 Corinthians 15)

From these and other simple statements of faith we move through centuries of time toward longer and more detailed creeds, the growth of which was fueled by heterodox theologies to which the creeds were a response. Consequently, we move from Paul’s statement to the Old Roman Symbol to the Apostolic Creed to the Nicene Creed and beyond.

If you’re looking here for a credal statement of that nature, a list of theological propositions to which we assent so you can determine if we pass muster, we’ll disappoint you. For us it’s enough to say we love Jesus and feel we have nowhere else to turn; that he is our Savior – the Way, Truth and Life; that he reflected to us the faithfulness and lovingkindness of the Father in concrete ways; that he remains with us in and through the presence of the Holy Spirit; and that in him we have undying life. We also confess that whatever we think these things mean, we’re likely as clueless as Peter and the criminal were. Yet we think that confession pleases God, and we offer you here at the end an excerpt from a well-known prayer of Thomas Merton:

I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think I am following your will

does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you
does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.