Awakening Faith in an Alternative Future Part 4

Below is the next part of the commentary on my presentation to the national SOFiA conference .....and here again is the link to the full presentation:

Life practices (including religious practice) that rely on the allure of the inner circle try to affirm the idea that our spiritual development follows the pattern “believe then behave then belong.” In other words if you give mental assent to a set of previously determined prescriptions (affirm the precepts of the “inner circle”), then that will change your behaviour. Consequently you will be able to belong. Most modernist forms of religion give heavy stead to this ordering. For example the relatively recent phenomenon in Christianity of so-called “conservative evangelicalism” relies on the developmental progression as folows: believe in a set of mental propositions about Jesus – then your behaviour will change (for example: so-called “family values”) and then you will belong (be “one of us”).

A more organic look at life might suggest the opposite. When one truly belongs (or, to turn that word around, one’s “longing to be their authentic self” is best fulfilled)  then one’s way of acting will reflect that more authentic self (behave) and then one’s beliefs will change (here I am not using belief necessarily as a set of hard facts to which we can give mental assent but I am using it more in the sense of root German word “beleben” – that which one can give one’s love or trust to).
It is thought that some early Christian communities operated in this way. If we were to say they “believed in Jesus” it would be more in the sense that they “trusted the way of Jesus as a way to an authentic life.” They came to that “belief” by being part of communities where they felt a sense of belonging and hence were able to adapt their life practice into a new way of being.

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