Do you believe in Jesus? In his wonderful little book, Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time, Marcus Borg points out that the word ‘believe’ did not originally mean giving mental assent to a set of doctrines or teachings; in both Latin and Greek its roots mean ‘to give one’s heart to.’ “Believing in Jesus does not mean believing doctrines about him,” Borg writes. “Rather, it means to give one’s heart, one’s self at its deepest level” to God in Christ.
That is why we at Dayspring (and United Methodists in general) are short on dogma and doctrine, and long on love. John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, said, “If thine heart is as my heart, take my hand.” Wesley was not especially concerned with dogma. His ultimate concern was for every Christian to experience and practice the love of God in Christ.
Marcus Borg writes, “The Christian life is not primarily about believing the right things or being good. The Christian life is about being in relationship with God which transforms us into more and more compassionate beings, ‘into the likeness of Christ.'” At Dayspring, we are more concerned that the Christian life is grounded in relationship—with God and one another—than whether everybody agrees on what to believe in. Unlike other traditions, there’s no “dotted line” at the bottom of a doctrinal statement for you to sign on. Like John Wesley, we “think and let think.” In fact, theological exploration is not only encouraged among Methodists, it is expected!
Having said that, there are some basic, commonly held theological assumptions at Dayspring. For example, we are not Scriptural literalists. We believe that the Bible is like a window through which we see God and better understand ourselves—and not a static, inerrant textbook. We are a community centered in God’s grace. We affirm that God loves us not because of who we are or anything we do, but because of who God is. With Wesley, we believe grace goes before us, it convicts us, and—in Borg’s words—it transforms us into more and more compassionate beings, ‘into the likeness of Christ.’ Thus we recognize with grace comes responsibility, and that meaning and purpose for our lives is found in ministry and service to others and in the service of justice and mercy for all.
While some traditions regard the end of faith as a destination—namely, heaven—we view faith as a journey. My colleague Rev. David Felten and I have written a book entitled Living the Questions. I invite you to see your life as a faith journey in which the questions are as rich and meaningful as any answers—perhaps more so!
Blessings, Pastor Jeff