Must a Christian go through life thinking that they must believe everything that they have ever heard taught in a church is the literal truth, that must be automatically accepted as, forgive the pun, Gospel? There are many Christians who seem to think so, and indeed there are many churches that act as if questioning even the smallest of their teachings is akin to heresy.
While the hymn “Faith of our Fathers” is a beautiful hymn, the principal behind it, that our beliefs must always remain the same, that faith is something can never be questioned, goes against, I believe, the clear teaching and example of the Bible. Scripture itself shows how God, over the centuries revealed more and more of himself to the world. From essentially being the war God of one small tribe of people, God’s revelation eventually through Jesus Christ showed how God’s love and forgiveness is available to all people. We see how God went from being a God who demanded harsh punishment to those who violated even the smallest of his commandments, to a God who offered forgiveness and mercy to even the worst of sinners. God’s grace, his unmerited, undeserved, unearned love was there for the taking by all people, as long as we accepted the gift of Christ, who taught us to live as God wants us to live, as brothers and sisters to each other with God as our common parent, and who gave his life in atonement for our sins, bringing us to be at one with God.
When we go thru life thinking that our understanding of what it means to be faithful to God is the only way, we commit the same sin of the Pharisees. They too thought their understanding of what it meant to be a people of God was the only valid expression of faith. Jesus showed them otherwise. While he taught obedience to the law, he taught that it was more important to be obedient to the spirit of the law instead of the letter.
More importantly, as children of God, we are made to grow, to change, to mature. Much like children learn to think and reason, we too, as children of God, must learn to throw aside the simplistic, black and white views a child has, and develop more mature ways of relating to God and each other.
When that happens, we can have a relationship with God that is not based on fear. We can have a relationship with God as deep, as meaningful, as nourishing as with a beloved parent, who raised us from babies, but now relates to us as an adult. Respected, loved and trusted enough to be given the freedom to live our own lives. Free to think and for ourselves and explore the wonders of the world God has blessed us with. Free to discover all the amazing things this universe has to offer.