Bishop Pat Buckley
I feel the need to commit to paper a summary of what my beliefs are. In 1994 I wrote my own “Credo” (reproduced below) and twenty one years later I still believe what I wrote then.
However I do find myself now living in a time where all faith and belief is being challenged – especially by very intelligent and articulate people like the actor Stephen Fry and the intellectual Richard Dawkins. In fact you could say we live in an age that is typified, by on one hand, “fundamentalist believers” and on the other hand, “fundamentalist atheists”. And of course this is fine. All are entitled to their beliefs and to the free expression of them.
(Richard - Don't generalise - I am not satisfied with not understanding the world. Like you I am on a searching journey and I have more questions than answers about the world, the universe, mankind, God, science etc. I am totally open to having any or all my beliefs challenged)
I cannot identify myself with either camp. I am a freethinking, liberal and open-minded Christian and I am happy to have anyone challenge my beliefs. But I do not appreciate fundamentalism of any kind and I believe that many people undermine their beliefs by adopting fundamentalist and dogmatic approaches. Ranting and raving never won an argument for anyone. Unfortunately we live in a ranting, raving and intolerant world and I truly wish we did not.
So what do I believe?
1. I believe that God exists and I believe this not because of anything I was ever taught or told. I believe in God because I have experienced God in my heart and mind and spirit and in the happenings – the joys and sufferings - of my life.
2. I believe in a personal God who is intimately involved in every detail of everything that happens in everybody’s life and everything that happens – both good and bad – in the world and the universe(s). I believe this phemenon was expressed by Jesus Christ when he said that not a hair falls out of our head without God knowing and caring about it.
3. I believe that Jesus of Nazareth was and is God and the Son of God and I believe in his total and physical resurrection from the dead and I believe totally in the miracles he worked during his life on this earth.
4. I believe in The Trinity – the belief that our One God has three personalities or manifestations that we have come to call: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I believe that the doctrine of The Trinity is a man-made but divinely revealed doctrine and that it is the best way, yet thought of, to speak of a reality that is actually beyond words.
5. I believe that “The Church” is the Family of Mankind and consists of all the people that have ever lived or will lived.
6. I believe that organised religion can be either GOOD or BAD and that in most instances throughout history and even today it has been and is of the BAD variety and has been one of the greatest causes of misunderstanding, division, hatred and war among mankind.
7. I believe that SPIRITUALITY is purer than religion and that FAITH is purer than BELIEF.
8. I believe that historical Christianity, Roman Catholicism, Protestantism, Islam, Judaism and all the other “isms” are a departure from pure spirituality and faith and are in fact repugnant to the true God and the true God’s wishes and desires for the universe(s) the world and mankind.
9. I believe that organised religion is essentially about small “castes” in each religion controlling the “masses” for the furtherance of their own power, prestige, influence and wealth. These castes come in many different varieties – popes, bishops, priests, moderators, ayatollahs, rabbis, imams, ministers, pastors………
10. I believe that “religion” is the “opium of the masses” and that a true, searching, thinking, spirituality is the antidote to that poison.
11. I believe that a true spirituality always expresses itself by taking the side of the “oppressed” against the “status quo”. As such I believe that any religion that takes the side of the “status quo” against the “oppressed” proves itself immediately to be a spurious and probably dangerous religion.
TO BE CONTINUED............................
A PERSONAL CREED
I believe that in this world it is impossible to understand God.
I believe that God made this wonderful universe and all that exists.
I can find God in nature, in animals, in birds and the environment.
I believe that God made all men and women,
That He made them all equal,
And that He loves and cherishes them all equally.
I believe that the whole human race is the family of God.
I believe that there may be intelligent life on other planets
And if so, they too are part of God’s family.
I hold that religion and faith are two different things,
That religion can be both good and bad
And that it is spirituality that counts.
For me your religion is an accident of your birth
Or a gift of God’s great providential diversity.
There is no one true church.
All churches and all religions contain aspects of the truth.
But only God is truth.
No man is infallible.
A Buddhist or a good atheist is as acceptable to God as a good Catholic.
I believe that sex is good and so is the body.
The only sexual act that is sinful is the one that uses or abuses.
I believe in people, especially suffering people.
I believe in the power of weakness.
I believe that all men and women will be saved.
I believe in a packed Heaven and an empty Hell.
And even Satan might get another chance.
I believe in the freedom of God’s sons and daughters.
I believe that dogma is often evil.
I believe that life is a journey towards God
And that no one has the right to insist that you go a certain road.
I believe that God and reality are too big for my poor words.
I believe therefore that I am only at a beginning.
Only knocking at a door.
And I believe that the best is yet to come.