On Faith

Lise asked me in the comments of the waterboarding post how I can say I’m not a Christian if I affirm the existence of Jesus.

It’s a reasonable question.

I affirm the existence of Jesus because he was a real person, as ample archaeological evidence has illustrated. I also believe that he was a prophet, and that he did offer lessons and homilies to his followers, although I have a harder time with concepts like the Resurrection and the loaves and the fishes. I believe in Jesus not because I have Christian faith, but because I have historical knowledge. I also know that Siddhartha Gautama Buddha was a real person, and that he also lived an ascetic life and offered instruction. Muhammad was also a real, living individual. I don’t consider myself Buddhist or Muslim either, however, although I like many aspects of these religious traditions.

Faith is tricky for a lot of people. I don’t believe in an overarching God figure, which means that I disagree with a fundamental tenant of Christianity. I do believe in being kind to others, in loving one another, in humility, in the value of an ascetic life and introspection, in caring for the Earth. A lot of these beliefs are important aspects of religious faith, but I also think they are an important part of being human. And I recognize historical figures like Christ, Buddha, and St. Francis of Assisi who also believed in these values. I also respect people with strong religious convictions, although I may not share those beliefs.

In terms of Christianity, I was baptized into the Eastern Orthodox Church, but I am not Christian. I was baptized because I went to school in Greece, and in Greece, everyone is Eastern Orthodox, and the whole school files up the hill to the church for services every Saturday. I have a huge problem with major segments of the Bible, I do not affirm the existence of the Trinity, and while I think that Christ may have been a holy man, he was not immortal, and he certainly wasn’t the son of god.

If anything, I would consider myself agnostic, or perhaps a borderline atheist.

I hope that answers the question of how I can say that I believe that Christ was a person without being Christian. Christ was Jewish, after all, and I think he would be horrified to see the things that people have done in his name. I’m also fairly certain that he would disagree with many sections in the Bible as well.

In a world where people are allowed to choose their faith, I think there’s a great deal of responsibility. I could not ally myself with Christianity because I cannot accept this religion wholesale and without doubt. Christianity is too conflicted, too polluted, and too confused for me to call myself a Christian. Perhaps someday I’ll call myself a Buddhist; I like Buddhism and I like Buddhist values, but I think that I would feel like too much of a poseur white girl. For now, I think that agnosticism is the best answer; I am open to information and persuasion, just as any good scientist is, but I’m not ready to take the plunge, and I may never be.