I believe everyone is entitled either to hold a religious or spiritual belief (or not) or even be uncertain. No-one should have the right to dictate the form one’s religious or spiritual life takes. We each have the freedom to think for ourselves and express these thoughts, free to be ourselves, choosing how we live our lives: but only if our choices don’t in any way harm others who may think, live, love or believe differently.
With such freedom comes responsibility. It is our human obligation to conduct ourselves ethically, morally and with compassion and integrity. We should never rush to act or judge others, and we should be willing to forgive others – and ourselves.
My beliefs and spirituality have evolved over the years and not always in step with life in general. But I’m now happy with who and where I am in life, and content with what I believe and how I express it. What follows are the faith questions I am most frequently asked – and my (hopefully straightforward) answers…!
Question: George, you’re known to be an exceptionally liberal minister. Do you actually believe in God…?
Answer: Absolutely, yes!
I believe in God as the spirit of the great mystery of all creation past, present and yet to be: God of ‘many names and none’. The spirit of God revealed not only in the diversity of the created world around us, but also in our actions and those of others.
It is impossible to define or describe God and the complex interweaving of that divine spirit around, within and beyond all things. That is why God is the ‘great mystery’ we come from, are part of, return to.
God may also be encountered in unsuspecting ways (for me that includes beautiful music and glorious scenery or architecture), although we don’t always take notice of that spirit present in our lives.
Question: Are you a Christian…?
Answer: Yes, I try to follow Jesus’ teachings and his example in my life and work.
However, there is very little known about the man Jesus, a charismatic first century Galilean visionary and wisdom teacher. He frequently opposed convention, frequently clashing with the authorities and was ultimately executed for his beliefs.
Most of the surviving texts about Jesus were written in good faith many years after the events (and by people who almost certainly weren’t there to witness the events first hand) to create a very different picture of the human Jesus, emphasising the ‘divinity’ of the Christ or the ‘pre-Easter Jesus’ and the ‘post-Easter Christ’.
The human Jesus and his message of compassion, justice and peace for everyone (especially those at the margins of society), and his willingness to live out his beliefs even when in direct opposition with authority speak clearly to me. I admire this man of deep faith who was brutally executed still defending all he stood for, and I try to follow his teachings and example in my own life and ministry.