It seems to me that some ideas about faith and religion deserve constant attention and revision. The word belief falls in this category. I wonder how fellow Quakers feel about it.
I am specifically thinking about belief in God. To me, the existence of God is a fact, and belief itself is irrelevant. The question is not if God exists, but what is the nature of God.
Most Christians adhere to the idea that God is simultaneously Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I do not think of God as a person. I feel that we are created in the image of God in the sense that we are conscious, just as God is conscious (I have a hard time believing that we look like God).
I am attracted to the idea that God is everything in the universe. There is no difference between God and the universe. This is obviously a radical idea, because it follows logically that not only is God present in everybody, but also that we are all God because we are part of the universe.
I am not willing to go as far as to say that we are the same as Jesus. He was more conscious than we are. He was fully awake. I also assume that God is infinitely more conscious.
In reference to the Holy Spirit, the Acts of the Apostles maintain that the Holy Spirit appeared 50 days after the resurrection. I accept that, but I also believe that it was always there.
I believe that God imparts truth to humanity in many different ways. To me, tolerance is much more important than the notion that Christianity is the only truth. Jesus said: “In my Father’s house are many mansions.” This seems to me to be consistent with the idea that truth is revealed in many ways. Different cultures and religions reveal truth in different ways.
Belief becomes a problem if it is encapsulated in the concept of ideology. If we insist that the only acceptable faith is the Christian faith, then we have a problem. Differences of belief can become the cause of conflict and sometimes war. Quakers do not insist on being dogmatic about religious ideology. Tolerance is a major value in my thinking. This is why I identify as a Quaker.