What do Christians Believe?
- The existence of a creator God;
- The revelation of the unlimited love of God shown in the life and death of Jesus;
- The hope that all might share in the redemption of the world that is accomplished by God in and through Jesus Christ in the power of the Spirit.
The Rev Professor Keith Ward (formerly the Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford University) advanced these propositons as ones to which all Christians could agree.
What we believe determines how we should live. For the vast majority of us who do not follow an exclusively contemplative life of prayer, living out Christian faith involves engagement with the world and a commitment to justice, human flourishing, care for creation, and the relief of physical and mental suffering.
There has been controversy from the start. In the Bible, in The Acts of the Apostles, we read about vehement disagreements between the original members of the Jesus-movement. And so it has continued with, scandalously, Christians shedding the blood of other Christians over their differences.
Karl Rahner [1904-84], a German Catholic theologian, summarised the nature - necessarily limited and provisional - of attempts to decide upon and express Christianity's core beliefs:
"The clearest formulations, the most sanctified formulas, the classic condensations of the centuries-long work of the Church in prayer, reflection and struggle concerning God’s mysteries: all these derive their life from the fact that they are not end but beginning, not goal but means, truths which open the way to ever greater Truth."
Julian of Norwich [c.1342-1420] in her Showings or Revelations of Divine Love cut through the philosophical and theological tangles:
"What? Do you wish to understand your Lord’s meaning in this thing? Know it well. Love was his meaning."