Why I remain a contemplative Christian

Why I remain a contemplative Christian June 4, 2015

Teresa Blythe
Teresa Blythe

Although I often work in spiritual direction with people from no religious background, I am no “none.”

While I’m open to spiritual practices from a variety of religious traditions and am proud to have close friends who are atheists, Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim and everything in between, I remain a committed progressive contemplative Christian. I don’t seek to convert anyone because I do not wish to be converted–that “do unto others” rule that Jesus emphasized is paramount for me. I’m comfortable being a Christian who enjoys being rooted in the Jesus way even when events and experiences in life just don’t make much sense.

Going to seminary and becoming a spiritual director restored my faith. I know for many people seminary sends them into a spin cycle that shatters or damages their faith. But for me it was a time of grace. I learned there have always been mystics and contemplatives in Christianity. They just weren’t talked about in the church I grew up in. When I learned that what I am is a contemplative Christian who is committed to a God of love that is beyond our understanding, I found myself at home with mystery and paradox. I don’t have to go around insisting that my theology is the only right theology. Only God knows how the universe is put together and why. I can, however, trust that this God is love. No more worrying about who is “in” and who is not. God created everything that is and called it good.

I did have to jettison some of my fears and the teachings of my childhood in order to embrace who I really am, this contemplative Christian. It was helpful to learn in seminary that the Bible contains many theologies, not just one. That there are hundreds, maybe thousands of ways to be a Christian. We are diverse, despite what one faction of Christianity would have you believe. Once I embraced that diversity there was no need to be at odds with any other kind of Christian. For me, there was no need to dump Christianity for another faith, a hybrid faith, a creation my own belief system or to declare myself an agnostic or atheist.

All I need or hope to be is the open-hearted, contemplative, progressive Christian that I was created to be.

 

If you want to know more about spiritual direction, please check out my website at the Phoenix Center for Spiritual Direction.

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