In response to Ryan’s invitation to state what I believe in 250 words or less:
I believe that the gospel as proclaimed and embodied by Jesus threatens every fiber of my personal and social being. I believe that most of my life consists of running from this gospel, and that much of my confessional and vocational life is spent denying its radical import.
I love theology and creeds and liturgy, yet I often believe they shield me from the very real demands of incarnating the gospel on the ground. They help me believe that faith can be relegated to my mind — that is to say, to what I believe. I’m not sure if this is keeping me alive or killing me.
If my life is defined by what I believe, then the God I truly believe in is the God of consumerism, materialism, public image, and “success.” So to say that I believe in the Christian God as revealed by Jesus would be a lie of the first order.
Instead, I aspire to believe in the kingdom of God revealed by Jesus; I aspire to be a Christian. I hope and pray and dream and weep that one day all of my Gods will die, so that I might truly live.
In other words: “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”
 This credo is haunted by Kierkegaard who once wrote: “The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand, we are obliged to act accordingly. Take any words in the New Testament and forget everything except pledging yourself to act accordingly. My God, you will say, if I do that my whole life will be ruined. Herein lies the real place of Christian scholarship. Christian scholarship is the church’s prodigious invention to defend itself against the Bible, to ensure that we can continue to be good Christians without the Bible coming too close. Oh, priceless scholarship, what would we do without you? Dreadful it is to fall into the hands of a living God.”
By Phil SniderPhil Snider is a pastor at Brentwood Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Springfield, Missouri and the coauthor of Toward a Hopeful Future: Why the Emergent Church is Good News for Mainline Congregations. He is a graduate of Missouri State University (B.S.), Phillips Theological Seminary (M.Div.) and Chicago Theological Seminary (D.Min.).
Phil blogs at www.philsnider.net.