Lately, I’ve been thinking about how to evaluate the quality of one’s beliefs. What questions do we need to ask about the faith we hold and which holds us? How do we go about taking stock of our faith’s ability to make sense out of life, to guide the ways we live, and to help us live with meaning?
As a way to start, I suggest that we ask these questions about whatever faith or framework of belief we have:
Does our faith have a truthful, realistic and hopeful view of the human condition and the nature of the world? In other words, does your faith recognize that human beings are of infinite worth and value, but also capable of doing great evil? Can it deal with sin and guilt, shame and alienation? Does it teach you how to deal with what has gone wrong with the world without giving up on the world? Does it face despair honestly but call you to hope nonetheless?
Does your faith show you how to forgive—how not to be consumed by the hurts done to you or bound by past unfairness and injustice?
Does your faith view human suffering with compassion? Does it motivate you to treat those who struggle and hurt with sincere tenderness and to offer them concrete help?
Does your faith acknowledge mystery and transcendence, leaving you breathless at the vastness and greatness of the universe and the Creator who is its Source and Sustainer?
Does your faith teach you real humility, the kind that celebrates but does not idolize who you are, which reminds you that you don’t know everything, that other people deserve respect and dignity, and which teaches you that you don’t get to “play god” by controlling and judging others?
Does your faith speak meaningfully to your longing for love? And does it call you—and transform you—to be a person who loves and serves the world?
Does your faith give you a reason to live that is bigger than yourself?
Does your faith give you a vision of the world healed and made whole? Does it cause you to dream of justice and peace and then put you to work on making those dreams come true?
Does your faith dance and sing with joy, joy which is not finally stilled or silenced by trouble or pain?
That’s what I’ve got so far. What do you think? What would you suggest?