Would you believe Betsy Rice’s faith is open to discussion? Betsy, who’s at church most anytime the door’s unlocked; Betsy, who stands for the congregation with multiple good deeds out in the community; Betsy, who is the object of the question occasionally posed in discussions of committee work and faith journeys: What would Betsy Rice do? A few months ago, we received a tip (thanks, Ann McMillan) that she’d typed out a credo to share with her family. With gentle urging we secured a copy and her permission to post – but only if we tell you Betsy considers this a discussion-starter. “I would be enriched by the comments of those who challenge it,” she says. “I might even end up changing parts of it!” And here “it” is:
CREDO as of January 1, 2014
James Hinton (1822-1875) wrote “Hold fast to God in spite of logic, and yet not quite blindly.”
I am a Christian. Why?
1. My forebears were Christian. A Christian community helped to raise me.
2. It works for me.
The first makes me wonder: Had I been born into another faith, would I be a faithful adherent of it? The second admits a need. I have need of a faith and a faith community. The Judeo-Christian faith, as I understand and accept it, supplies that need.
“As I understand and accept it” – that is where I must guard against hypocrisy. Do I mouth, sing, proclaim things to which I am not totally committed? Do I adapt my words to my audience to too great an extent? Perhaps ….. but, here goes ….,
Creator God, omnipotent, inscrutable by limited man – yes – yet knowable to the limit of man’s creaturehood. Something within man makes him search for that which is beyond him. My faith makes God personal, one who not only responds but takes the initiative in revealing himself.
I believe in a Christ-event in which God revealed himself and instructed man in a way man could understand – living it out.
Virgin birth? – not so sure. I love the quote at Christmastime: “The facts may not be true, but the story is.” and oh, what a story!
Crucifixion – what man does to goodness (and still today)
Atonement, forgiveness – yes. (Alice Duer Miller called feeling guilty “the form of egotism hardest to eradicate from the human heart.” That requires some pondering!) Morbidity about wrong-doing can wreck a life. That may be simple psychology, but so is the urge to do something to make things right, the offering of sacrifice, the shedding of blood – the Old Testament so full of it. There it is, available in Christianity. (This may be mincing words, but in answer to “Did God send Jesus to die for our sins?” I’d answer that God sent Jesus to reveal something of his nature and to teach us how to live. Sinful man killed Jesus, then saw him as the lamb without blemish who had been sacrifice for them – the debt paid.)
Resurrection – yes. Something happened to those followers! Goodness wins, empowers!
Evangelism – yes, to share a more excellent way, but always with respect for the other and appreciation of his culture. (Dalai Lama quote: “Have faith in your religious tradition and respect all others.”)
Second coming – I admit that I never think of it and feel it is not crucial to my faith (and I, the daughter of a premillenarian!) I find fascinating the theories science presents of the eventual demise of this small planet.
Life after death – I think we have no idea, and so we cherish what we need, what we feel … and perhaps this very feeling is another part of God’s revelation. I know not what, but it will be all right, and something within me will live – a great new adventure, unimaginable now.
The Bible – a great and profound book – yes, inspired (and I who read it too seldom must be reminded that often persons are changed when it comes into their hands) ….beauty, praise, struggle, history, story, fable, vision, sex, lust, greed, failure, contradiction, contrition, hate, gore, grace, charity, triumph, defeat, paradox, apocalypse, surprise, faith, hope, steadfast love …..To look at it with others should rightly be a requirement for me as a Christian seeker. As I understand it, Muslims allow no criticism of the Qur’aan. Christianity is Bible-based, but the faith is in Person, not print, in Word, not words.
The Church – so checkered a history; often redeeming, too often Pharasaical and concerned with machinery. Presbyterians are, in some circles, the “frozen chosen,” but as Protestants we are also Reformed and Reforming. Despite publicity about the splits (which are real), I see a real stirring in the church which is exciting. I am not ready to write it off. Christianity is a corporate faith, whether at 11 a.m. on Sunday or not, whether one denomination or not. We need each other.
Corporate worship – how varied it is, again meeting need. I cherish that of my particular congregation, so beautifully crafted with music, Word, prayer – both liturgy and surprise with drums, antiphony, dance …
for my faith among many things
for those, known and unknown, who have brought it to me
for the church of which I am a part
in light of so much I do not know
in light of the grace I find in my faith
in light of the courageous witness I find in others
of my own limitations and gifts
of the gifts and struggles of others
to be a plus whenever I can (whatever that means!)
to support those who tackle the difficult
to be wise in tackling the difficult which comes my way. (Why do I not use the words of my faith – simply to learn from and follow the lead of Jesus, the revealer?)
to be vested with more humor (such as I enjoy in the Smiths!)
that I am not in charge!
that the unknowable God reveals Himself to limited creatures!
that love wins out!
Note to recipients: Dear Nieces and Nephews, I forewarned you that a Credo might be coming. Hope it is not an embarrassment to you. Consider it a product of age which, if written on another day, might look quite different. (I am already thinking of better ways to express things, and realizing that some need not be expressed at all. It should be succinct and it is not.) But I send it on, hopeful for honest feedback. Who knows? I may end up with three lines someone else has already written instead of a treatise!
Love to all ….. Betsy