Read Wedgewood's website and you will get a very clean sense of who Wedgewood is and what we are tryiing to do. You willl discover some of our core practices and beliefs.
When it comes to a traditional lists of what a church believes about God, the Bible, Sin, Salvation, Wedgewoodians are very diverse. Although we are a liberal, Christian Church, unity on traditional doctrinal beliefs is not our goal. So it's misleading to speak of what Wedgewood believes. That acknowledged, it may be helpful for a visitor to know what one of the leaders at Wedgewood believes (at least on this day, because Wedgewoodians are known for changing beliefs in light of new experiences and information.) Below are Co-Pastor's thoughts on some traditional theological categories and his estimation of some of what Wedgewoodians believe.
Belief About Beliefs
Rather than focus on what people believe, Wedgewood focuses on the practices of the faith: changing the world/the practice of mission work, the practice of silence, the practice of community, the practice of preaching, the practice of reading and studying scripture (including the scripture and writing of non-Christian religions), the practice of prayer, the practice of stewardship, the practice of worship, the practice of singing, etc. Beliefs are important but not at the expense or paralysis of practices. Beliefs often prevent community. Focusing on practices enables us to be a community without doctrinal rigidity and prevents us from focusing on silly doctrinal arguments, a problem of the historical church.
All our sources for thinking about God, the world, ourselves, and others are problematic, and that includes the Bible. So we live without certainty as we consult experience, science, reason, history, church history, tradition and the Bible. Aware of our blind spots, we depend on others and the importance of living in community.
The Bible is the church's book. It is not inerrant or infallible. It has some bad stuff in it: genocide, sexism, homophobia, slavery, and portrayals of a wrathful God. On the hand, there are amazing, life-giving texts in the Bible which can change us and the world. And there's enough in the Bible which is clear to keep us busy.
According to John's gospel, Jesus said, "I have much more to tell you but you are not about to hear it." (John 16:12, which is probably the most important verse in the Bible.) That's not "I have just a few more things to tell you, but I have much more to tell you."
When the Church closed the canon, decided what books to put in the Bible, it wrongly acted as if God had stopped revealing and failed to see the importance of Jesus' statement presented in John 16:12. Which means, for liberal Christians, listening and looking and feeling for the guidance of The Holy Spirit is right up there at the top of the list.
For some Wedgewoodians, God is very personal. Others are more agnostic, even atheist. Some are one or the other depending on what is going on in their lives and in the world. Most Wedgewoodians believe in God and see God's guidance for their lives. They consider themselves spiritual, but not in a pious or self-righteous way. Some would call themselves mystics. Others want to emphasize God has many names, and not just Christian names. God is knowable but not fully known. God is mystery, and therefore all concepts of God must be held with humility. We are suspicious that our views of God and the views of others on God may reflect more self worship than worship of God.
Unfortunately, it is impossible to identify the historical Jesus. We have four canonical gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) and so we have more than one account of the life of Jesus. Nevertheless, Wedgewoodians find the life of the one who was a friend to outcasts, Eunuchs and prostitutes to be worthy and worship and the best revelation of God's love.
God is still speaking. God is still creating. God is still working and active in the world. We know such action as the work of the Holy Spirit.
Nobody's perfect. Nobody. Confession and repentance are part of the Christian journey. Sin is not, however, just a matter pertinent to individuals. Systems, institutions, governments also can be characterized as sinful.
Co-Pastor Chris believes God will not fail, that all will be saved, that there is no hell.
Jesus never said, "I would really like to forgive you but God says you can't be forgiven until I die on a cross." Jesus never said, "Hold you forgiveness horses, soon I'll die a horrible, bloody, humiliating death on a Roman cross, and then and only then will God forgive you but hold your forgiveness horses, you will be forgiven."
It's interesting that the early church chose to interpret the death of Jesus in terms of a sacrifice when the prophet Hosea had God say, "For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings." (Hosea 6:6) That pretty much destroys the sacrificial system.
And if Hosea wasn't enough the Prophet Isaiah had God say, "To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the LORD: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats." (Isaiah 11:1)
Let's be real. It does not take Rocket Science to figure this one ought. Some clergy type thought up the sacrificial system and got real fat off of it. Billy Graham and Joel Osteen are not the first Billy Grahams and Joel Osteens who have made tens of millions off of God.
And don't forget that weirdo John the Baptizer dunking people out in the historically geographically important Jordan River. Powerful water there. Transformative memories there. It was in those waters that John baptized people, a baptism of repentance, you will recall. John offered FREE what they were charging for at the temple. You went to the temple to buy your forgiveness with an offering. John did not charge. And that's why Jesus was baptized by John. Theologians got all out of wack about why Jesus would be baptized by John since he was sinless. (Well, Jesus' sinlessness is another column.) But the really amazing thing is that Jesus chose to support the free repentance being doled out in the Jordan.
Jesus did NOT have to die for anybody's sins to be forgiven. What kind of God would require a death, a life, for forgiveness to happen, particularly require a brutal death. The early church could have done a better job understanding Jesus' death. In fact, some did, but that's another column.
The early church messed up a lot of things; nothing more, perhaps, than understanding Jesus' death.
Co-Pastor Chris does not believe there is a Hell. He believes all will be saved. Upon death all will see a great light and be overwhelmed by the love of God. God will not fail.
The most important baptism is the baptism of love. Wedgewood also baptizes by immersion or sprinkling. Baptism is not required for membership. There are many meanings to baptism, including becoming a new creation, God's forgiveness, entrance into a congregation, and dedication of a child.
The Lord's Table is open to all. All, including non-Christians. There are many meanings to The Lord's Table but communion is a foundational meaning. Wedgewood's practice of The Lord's table is influenced not just by the gospel accounts of the so-called Last Supper but by all of Jesus's table fellowship practices and narratives about his relationships to people and his feedings of those who are hungry.
A person's sexual orientation and gender identification are gifts from God. The world reflects a wonderful diversity. The world is not binary.
Wedgewood celebrates the love of two people regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Relationships are hard work, especially marriages. Congratulations to you if you are married or engaged.