Sunday, February 24, 2008


I just read a great article written by Pam Hogeweide. I found it on the Ooze and you can read it here.

I'll cut and paste it here too. Enjoy!

I asked a friend of mine who considers herself a witch, of the Wiccan variety, how she came into her beliefs. She paused, took a deep breath and then said, "It's not about beliefs. It's about who I am. This is my path. It's what I know, not what I believe. You choose to believe in something. I don't. I just am."

I get what she's saying. She's proclaiming what to her is her identity. It's not based on dogma or right information, but based on her perspective of who she is and what feels right to her. This is the mission statement of the post-modern generation. "It's right for me. I won't cram it down your throat, because it might not be right for you."

This accentuates a mindset that is prevalent in evangelicalism, something that I've heard referred to as beliefism.

My friend Jim Henderson at Off the Map defines beliefism as "about me being right." This is a lot different than being devoted to a Person, to Jesus. Beliefism is devotion to a system of beliefs.

So what does it matter? Who cares whether I believe something or know something, like my Wiccan friend, or have a certain perspective? What is the flippin' point?

To me there is a huge point here because beliefism is what distorts our understanding of who God is and what he is like. Beliefism is the crazy carnival mirror that screws up our perception.

Believing is a different thing from beliefism. To believe is to have confidence that something is real.

I choose to believe that Jesus is the Visible Expression of the Invisible Creator God. I put my faith in Him. This is much different than putting my faith into a system of doctrinal positions. Beliefism, as one person put it, is the worship of beliefs. I don't worship what I believe. I worship Jesus. There is a difference, a big difference.

I don't want to substitute spiritual friendship with Christ for a formulaic understanding of John 3:16.

Beliefism will strangle reckless zeal and passionate pursuit of God in a heartbeat. It will produce mean-spirited warriors who'll duel to the death over a shred of doctrine. This is not believing in Christ. This is believing in beliefs.

I wonder if this was part of the problem with the religious leaders that Jesus offended. He did not match their beliefs. He upset their formulas and religious system. Jesus kicked their beliefism in the teeth.

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel. (Matthew 23)

Beliefism will quench love and compassion. I recently was invited to a same-sex commitment ceremony. Beliefism told me Don't Go. Compassion for this friend compelled me to go.

I've decided these days that I'm ok if I offend people, if my beliefs don't match theirs. I'm more concerned with offending God. Jesus told the God-chasers of his day what offended Him : their beliefism. Then he told them a better way, using words like justice, mercy and faithfulness.

This is what messes up religion, what messes up my religion, that Jesus was like this: He touched lepers (religious law forbade it), He talked to loose women (definitely a no-no, a scandalous big no-no), He snacked on grain he picked on (gasp!) the Sabbath. This flies in the face of beliefism and basically flips it the bird.

So I want to be like Jesus. I want to be about the justice and mercy and love and faithfulness of my Father's business.

I want to give beliefism the bird.

Thanks for sharing this article Pam.


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