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The big questions: What don’t you believe?

This year Journey explores questions from the pews, namely from a (fictitious) person exploring faith and the Uniting Church. This month Nova B Lever asks: What don’t you believe?

WHAT DO you get when you combine Yusuf Islam, progressive Uniting Church members, an altar call and the school chaplaincy program?

It started with a brilliant documentary about singer-songwriter Cat Stevens (now known as Yusuf Islam).

Essentially a series of monologues, he began as Steven Demetriou Giorgio (Yusuf’s birth name) and progressed through his long search for meaning, rejecting Greek Orthodox and Baptist Christianity, his wandering along Buddhist paths, the darkness of Cat Stevens’ dabbling in magic and spiritualism, and the sense of purpose and peace Yusuf Islam found when he converted and made his statement of faith to Islam.

He knows and states clearly what he believes.

I watched a news story about the High Court challenge to Federal Government funding of state school chaplaincy.

A protagonist said it’s not about promoting atheism, but there’s no room for God or religion in schools.

He wouldn’t get a place on a school debating team, but he knows and states what he believes.

I visited a Uniting Church the following Sunday as the congregation celebrated an adult Baptism.

The minister preached from Paul’s letter to the Romans, about being baptised into Christ’s death and resurrection.

It was basic and powerful stuff.

At the end she made an ‘altar call’.

If anyone wanted to repent and express their faith in the risen Jesus, they could see her in the corner room after the worship.

Two people did.

Smiling as I left, I was given a visitor’s card to complete.

The lady with the card indicated the discussion taking place with the minister.

She assured me, “Some of us are progressive.

We don’t all believe that stuff about Jesus actually rising from the dead.”

I wasn’t sure what that makes those who do.

More importantly it left me wondering why many Christians are quick to say what we reject and what we don’t believe.

Can we stand in the market place of ideas and state clearly what we do believe?