In Camino Real, Tennessee Williams said “Life is an unanswered question, but lets still believe in the dignity and importance of the question.” Dignity is found in the pursuit of the important questions, not in the possession of all the answers. As a corollary, it’s possible (in fact essential) to have faith without relying on certainty as a crutch.
Jim Wallis was recently asked by the Washington Post whether he believed Jesus was the Son of God, and if so, what that means. Here is part of his response:
I believe the things that Jesus says about himself in the New Testament, and affirm what the later Scriptures and church creeds say about Jesus being the Son of God. But, that doesn't mean many of the things that Christians have too often concluded, or how we have acted on the basis of our belief.
Jesus being the Son of God does NOT mean that Christians are better, more right, more righteous, more moral, more blessed, more destined to win battles, or more suited to govern and decide political matters than non-Christians. Instead, believing that Jesus was the Son of God would better mean that people who claim to believe it ought to then live the way Jesus did and taught. And on that one, many of us Christians (who believe the right way) are in serious trouble when it comes to the way we live. Those who believe that Jesus was the Son of God should be the most loving, compassionate, forgiving, welcoming, peaceful, and hungry for justice people around—just like Jesus, right? Well, it's not always exactly so.
What a timely reminder as we enter a new year. Can we have the courage to affirm our faith without damning the beliefs (and souls) of others? Can we have a little less shrill rhetoric in 2007? I’m so tired of Christian arrogance, whether it be from the right or the left.
Jim notes that the famous evangelist Billy Graham exhibited great humility when asked about the fate of non-Christians.
One young believer stood up and asked Dr. Graham, "Since Jesus said 'I am the way, the truth and the life, and no man cometh to the Father but by me,' doesn't that mean people from other religions—Jews and the rest—are going to hell?" Billy replied, "I'm sure glad that God is the judge of people's hearts and not me! And I trust God to decide those questions justly and mercifully." The student was disappointed and pressed further, "Well, what do you think God will decide?" Graham demurred, "Well, God doesn't really ask my advice on those matters."
Maybe we could all apply that maxim. And remember to walk humbly with our God (Micah 6:8).