A faith submission by Rev. N.W. Oake
The church’s theology as it has been formulated over the years leaves questions unanswered and positions undefined.
Even more undefinitive are the creeds of the church and the Trinitarian and Christological confession of the early councils.
I do not think that my faith fills all these spaces, but it is larger (and also smaller) than the church’s theology because it is how the realities of the faith present themselves to me, how they are shaped by the questions and the challenges of the world today and so become the basis of my living.
I believe that there is a first and last word, and that word is “love.”
But there is no way for me to discover what love is than by deciphering the sign though which the love was revealed in its fullness: namely the cross of Jesus Christ who died and rose again.
The death of Jesus shows me that there is no greater love than this: to give one’s life for those one loves, and His resurrection assures me that love is the strongest power of all.
Love there has the last word and it always will have the last word.
But love has the last word because it already had the first word, and we know of this first and last because Jesus derived wholly from the power of love which is at the heart of the universe in the Eternal Triune God.
I believe that humanity is not the product solely of pressures and desires, but that it unfolds itself as a response to the call of Another who is the Holy Spirit.
“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace,
longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
meekness, temperance.” (Gal. 5:22, 23)
But equally this Other is also the Word (cf. The Holy Spirit who proceeds from the Father and the Son”) who makes it possible for me not to continue as a prisoner to past forms of bondage, who makes it possible for me not to be poisoned by the sins (my own or others’). I believe in the Holy Bible — the Word of God, who offers a new beginning, a new youth because this word is the Gospel of Forgiveness and the call to move forward to the new.
I believe in the strength of the “Word” despite the proliferation of verbiage which tries to conceal reality or dull the challenge. I believe that it is still possible to be directly concerned with everything that is going on in the world, to be challenged by it, to see happening in the world the “event” of an unexpected word.
I believe in the value of work, which establishes interdependence and by which are co-operatives in the birth of the world and at the same time in our own development.
But I also believe that work can crush and enslave us. This is what happens when the good of work becomes the good.
One only expresses oneself fully in wonder, in play, in celebration and in happiness. I believe that it is in prayer, worship and praise to Almighty God that we get to the heart of things, recognizing that what is most real is inexplicable.
I believe that our efforts, our strivings, our struggles can only escape futility or inhuman inflexibility when sustained by and continually intersected by a universe of God’s grace.
I continue day by day to live knowing that I will die, that death is the absolute negation of my most deep-rooted desires and plans.
But I believe that God will be present in this my death as He has been in my life. Even in this total negation He is Sovereign and that He will continue to hold me, and all those to whom He has once bound Himself in the Love He has revealed in Christ Jesus.
Rev. N.W. Oake served with the British Army during
the Second World War. He writes from Gander.