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Faith is an unusual substance, kind of like oobleck: sometimes solid, sometimes liquid, sometimes colorful, and always messy, at least in my experience. I’m sure that Mr. Johsens, wherever he may be right now, would be happy to know that his insistence of examining premises in eleventh grade English has shaped my thinking. Looking for and then at premises has taught me that everyone lives by faith at some level, even people who don’t like to think of themselves as people of faith.

Over this last portion of the church year, I have felt increasingly uncomfortable. When the readings turn to Jesus’s crucifixion, I want to skip them. The crucifixion, not the miracles, not the resurrection, not even Jesus’s sometimes obnoxious behavior, is the place where my faith falls down. For a long time I didn’t want to look at why that is, but growth happens at the uncomfortable edges of things.

The doctrine I’ve been soaking in all my life runs like this. People are sinful. Sins separate us from God and have to be paid for. Jesus, because he is God, lived a perfect life and thus became a perfect payment for everyone’s sins by dying on the cross. In redeeming everyone from sin, he overcame death and so was resurrected and we get to have eternal life.

Now I’m not the most orthodox of believers. I don’t think I believe God is really interested in blood sacrifice. So for a long time, I felt like the crucifixion was evidence of the problems of humanity more than anything else. It wasn’t about God wanting sacrifice, but about humans rejecting God. That temporarily helped my problem, but didn’t resolve it to my satisfaction.

The thing is, the doctrinal crucial step is my acceptance of Jesus as the payment for my sins. As I confronted, yet again, the accounts of Jesus being tortured and killed, I realized I didn’t want my sins paid for at that rate. That I am not willing to be a part of that torture. That I reject the payment, if the payment is Jesus’s suffering and death.

This rips the whole faith premise stuff to shreds. I can’t grasp what the implications of my new premise might be (besides the little doctrinal voice whispering, “Eternal damnation! Fire and brimstone!”). The oobleck has gone runny.



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