I think one of the major things I think I've learned from Emergent is more how to believe then specifically what to believe. I know Rob Bell uses the analogy of springs vs bricks in Velvet Elvis (although I haven't read the book). This also reminds me of a past post by Nancy about where to even begin.
You know those pictures of the universe, the sun, and other astrological bodies. When I see those pictures I “believe” that’s what it’s like, but I also know that’s not exactly what it looks like. I know the picture is just a representation of the real thing. Maybe the image was taken using radio waves or ultraviolet light to form the picture, and that if I really looked at the sun with my naked eyes I wouldn’t see solar flares popping out. I know if I was really a zillion miles away the universe or Milky Way wouldn’t look like that picture because it’s just a mathematical model made in lab. My belief in the accuracy of that picture is also tied with unbelief, and uncertainty. If someone tried to tell me that Saturn actually has gold bands around it, and showed me a picture to prove it, I would say “No I don’t believe those are actual bands they are just clumps of rocks that look like bands in this picture.” I have some ambiguity about it of how many rocks or how close etc. but I also have a certain amount of firm belief that the picture is wrong at the same time as belief that it is right.
My belief in hell is similar in some ways. I believe Jesus, and the apostles were talking about a spiritual reality, but hell is a spiritual reality that we can’t easily see or understand. So Jesus talked about it in metaphors – a fiery furnace, a lake of fire, the trash dump, the underworld, destruction, death etc. These are all pictures of a spiritual reality that I believe exists, but at the same time I have uncertainty about the pictures, and some belief that they are incorrect. I don’t think there will be an actual furnace or a literal lake that is on fire. I’m uncertain about the specifics of who goes there, and for how long, and the technicalities of how justification works. I believe Jesus when He speaks about hell in the Bible, I also don't believe it. I believe more strongly that God is love, that love wins, and that I am to embody that love and share that love with others.
What do you guys think? Is there a line of becoming so relativistic that you can't even speak truth? How do you hold your beliefs and convictions with humility, and passion without them becoming bricks? I've been criticized for letting my feelings get in the way of my interpretation of the Bible, but I don't see that as a problem. How do YOU believe? Where do you start? What does an Emergent FAITH look like?