- Pursue a faith in a God that aligns with my innate sense of right-and-wrong, that calls me to greater good, deeper discipline, and greater personal sacrifice, but does not fundamentally conflict with my conscience or my understanding of love.
- Pursue a faith in a God that asks me to reject what my heart tells me, to abandon my own morality, and to ignore my conscience, all in deference to a collection of documents that are historically questionable and oriented to an ancient world and a pre-modern mind.
Those leaning to the conservative will no-doubt find the first statement arrogant, far too existential, and deeply problematic. It is certainly problematic, because it subordinates Scriptural testimony to personal bias, feelings and convictions. The latter choice stands firmly in the conviction that truth can be both fully known and universally-applicable. But the truth is, everyone is already subordinating Scripture (and religious tradition and doctrine) to the tyranny of personal bias – some systems merely hide the fact, better.
Those leaning to the liberal side (like me) find the former choice an easy one: you do what’s right. You do what is good. And goodness cannot align with oppression, judgment or exclusivity. There is some arrogance here, especially the idea of our contemporary sensibilities being somehow “superior” to ancient wisdom.
But if I can die to my arrogance and humble myself, can I still choose to acknowledge that what seemed true to Israelites 6,000 years ago does not seem true today? And that perhaps our conception of God’s exhortation is imperfect, changing, and susceptible to both human corruption and human correction? As well as spiritual correction (if we believe the Holy Spirit does what the Holy Spirit is supposed to do).
For me, it’s not impiety, or my inability to believe in something counterintuitive. Faith itself is counterintuitive. The Beatitudes are counterintuitive. Jesus is counterintuitive. I choose the former oversimplified position because it seems less instinctive – less tribal – less based on the needs of cultural/societal survival, and more on transcendent principals for being a neighbor, a friend and a human being.
And just articulating this comes off as very arrogant.
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood…
I confess I have already traveled both…
One does not seem as fair.
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by--
More politically correct, yes, but less traveled by, nonetheless,
And it is starting to work in me a difference.