Stuff I learned on Sunday.
Confirmation class was all about Jesus yesterday. What do we believe about Jesus? What do we say about Jesus? Here are the slides from our discussion:
This year’s group is mulit-age. There are adults and youth. Yesterday 3/4 of our youth weren’t there, so it was almost all adults. And for both the youth and the adults in the class, what the church claims about Jesus is easy: fully human. Fully God. Savior. Friend. Judge (okay, judge is not so easy). Got it. No problem.
The content of our Jesus claims is window dressing to the more acute tension we feel about making a claim–a public claim–at all. Most of our group expresses some variation of the view that personal beliefs are one thing, but to assert those beliefs as if they bear on other people is quite another thing, and we’re not very comfortable with that other thing.
I need to appreciate better what is at stake for people of faith at school and work, where there is significant pressure to keep your convictions to yourself. In one academic setting I heard about yesterday, there is aggressive antipathy toward any kind of religious faith. That’s not my world. My job makes people (mostly) tolerate and even expect a certain level of faith sharing from me.
Those of us in “progressive” churches are the heirs of a liberal Protestantism that exerted serious influence on public life in the 20th century toward inclusion, diversity, and the role of doubt in faith. We have largely accepted–if not promoted–the domestication of faith claims to the personal, private realm, where anything you wish to believe “for you” is fine so long as you don’t push that belief on others.
I think we have to help people push past that for two reasons. First, it’s not really how we act, because the expectation that one ought to keep their convictions to themselves is a conviction not kept to oneself. But more importantly, the youth and adults in my congregation are among the good guys, and with all the bad guys pulling the levers of political, cultural, and economic life these days, I want to embolden the good guys to share their Christian convictions in public.
How’s that for a public claim?