I am often asked “does God exist?” and as a Christian, I affirm that there is a God. Yet being a Christian is not a matter of subscribing in the first instance to the proposition that a Supreme Being exists. This is where my atheist friends usually go astray – for it bears reminding that God does not exist as an entity in the world. When I, in company with other believers, recite the ancient Apostle’s creed “I believe in God the Father ….”, this is first of all a performative act rather than a propositional statement. It is akin to saying “I love you” rather than “I just know that there is an Invisible Pink Unicorn prancing out in my backyard”.
So where does that leave me? I find God in many ways – mystical experience, participating in the Eucharist, reading my collection of spiritual texts (my staples include the bible, the rule of St Benedict and the Martyr’s Mirror), the company of friends, the beauty of nature … the list goes on.
Again, why be a Christian? I draw here upon the Anabaptist tradition of Christianity with its’ central focus on Jesus and his ethic of enemy-love. I remain Christian partly because I think the traditions of Judaism and Christianity provide a richer lode for ethics and resources for insights that are subversive of prevailing ideologies. I draw attention here to the idea of a nonviolent god who renounces power and how the truth of human history is disclosed in a mutilated body – in the one who spoke for justice, truth and love and was killed by “the powers that be”.
Such a narrative is subversive if only because we as human beings are so implicated in violence (even those of us who are pacifists continue to discover the webs of violence that we participate in) that it requires an extraordinary act of imagination and even chutzpah <I so love that word!> to disavow the innumerable gods of power and violence that we have given allegiance to.
Here lies, for me, the radical nature of the vision that I subscribe to here – it is one that I believe provides a place to stand whereby prevailing orthodoxies can be critiqued. It is a joust with rival traditions of enquiry to discover weaknesses and reshape our ways of life accordingly.