This is one of a series of blogs in which I respond to some of the questions asked by Brian McLaren in his book Faith After Doubt. The book spoke to me deeply since I am living through a dark night. Heads up: my answers are personal and unfiltered. They may make you mad or disappointed with me. If you are not up for it, press delete. Here goes.
Chapter 2, question 1
1. The question that resonated with me was: “Why would I ever want to be part of a group that pressures me to say I believe things I don’t understand and can’t form an opinion about?” In early stages of becoming an Episcopalian, I asked people about what some things in the Creed mean. What is “true God from true God,” “proceeds from the father and the son”? No one could answer me. Even the contrived answers clergy gave me didn’t make sense or satisfy me. I also asked about prayer and got some shabby and contradictory replies. The rote repeating of the creed is indoctrination and brainwashing—to teach us to have some handy churchy phrases memorized so we can pull them out if we are ever questioned about what we believe. It doesn’t mean we believe or even understand them, but they are ready on the tip of our tongue. We can wave them around as signals of our virtue and our membership in the club. I hate that. And my phrases aren’t the same as those used by other so-called Christians. I remember when Amy applied to some college and was asked to sign an infallibility clause about the Bible. She offered to affirm the Nicene Creed instead. That wasn’t good enough. The phrases you wave around are only good in your chapter of the club, not in the other chapters. In fact, your phrases label you so you can be judged and rejected by the other chapters. I hate that. Where is the Love in that?