About Rev. Samuel G. Alexander
What I Do Not Believe
A Statement of Faith
from a Dual-Citizen of
Christianity and the World Spiritual Community
As the former Director of the World Spirituality Project at the Center for Integral Wisdom, I maintain what many of us have come to call a “dual-citizenship” relationship to my core faith, Christianity. I am most certainly a Christian but that said, I do not believe that Christianity has a corner on the truth, I don’t even think Christians should believe that, much less say it, for Paul tells us that “love is not arrogant,” and an exclusive claim on truth seems just a tad arrogant to me. And I don’t think that Christianity is the best tradition for every person as they seek to grow and develop in relationship to God, because the sad truth is that some have been so tragically hurt by the Church that it really seems best for them to seek spiritual wisdom and nurture in other places. (This is true of other traditions as well. Sadly Christians don’t have a corner on religious malpractice either.) But please don’t misunderstand; I love my faith. I am committed to Christian faith. I am lit up when offering the insights and merits of the Christian tradition in conversations with people from all traditions, and those who seek to be in relationship with Spirit through what’s being called a “trans-lineage” tradition. I do so with energy and imagination, all the while expecting others to do the same for me from within theirs. The purpose of interfaith conversations need not be conversion, for they’re at their best when everyone’s purpose is inspiring growth and development. Such conversations are enormously generative and have been invaluable to me as I’ve grown in my own decidedly Christian faith.
The following formal Statement of Faith, (constrained in length by the PCUSA), should then be read as a statement of faith from a “citizen” of Christianity, which is offered to his “fellow citizens” in the Church. I’d like the reader to know that I would write exactly the same thing, but would use very different language, were I addressing people outside the Church.
Statement of Faith
Rev. Samuel G. Alexander
August 10, 2015
From the moment Mary Magdalene ran from the tomb saying, “I have seen the Lord,” the Church has been debating what that witness means. Along the way ecumenical councils were called to conscribe the boundaries within which discussion about this mystery should take place. Their work is described in the Nicene Creed. I believe they got it right, and because I believe that, I am committed not only to loving those who believe they got it wrong, but also to joining with those who, whether through a Christian exposition of faith or not, think they got it right. The Doctrine of the Trinity and of the Two Natures of Christ are at the Creed’s heart. They tell a story that proclaims both the character and the work of God. That story, dynamic in character, is drawn from the Bible, the Word of God, trans-culturated, alive and authoritative in my life today. It is through the texts of the Hebrew and the Christian Scriptures that I come to know the nature of God and God’s relationship to creation. On this foundation I seek to place my trust and build my life.
I believe in God who is traditionally called the Father, the great I AM, the first person face of God known in unity, known in the One that is by nature love. I believe in God who is traditionally called Christ, the Son, “Thou,” the second person face of God who reaches out with creative passion, who meets us with arms yearning to hold our love. I believe in God who is traditionally called the Holy Spirit, the third person face of God, interpenetrating creation, animating its evolutionary story from the Big Bang to Shakespeare and beyond, each step an expression of love. I work to relate to God through all these faces, one leading me to another, each one deepening my engagement with the grace of God who gives life.
I believe Christ is fully God and fully human, interpenetrated by the Divine through all God’s faces thus becoming a unique expression of God’s abiding love just as, through the ebb and flow of God’s grace in cross and resurrection we are brought into union with Christ, we each become a unique expression of God’s love. With that grace, comes a unique obligation, for the world is in outrageous pain, pain derived from the fact we have not yet become who we are – a unique expression of God’s love. The only response to outrageous pain is outrageous love, the love offered through us in Christ.
I believe the Spirit is actively forming the Church, a community of those trusting in God’s grace expressed in Christ, which celebrates exquisite moments of Divine interpenetration in Baptism and Holy Communion, and who through Word and deed, proclaim the good news of Christ’s resurrection. I believe in the resurrection though I do not pretend to know what it is, except to say it is God’s next for our life. For God’s nature is to love us into the next, novel moment. When Mary fled the tomb she had no idea what lay in store. We like her can open our hearts and give our lives to the future of love, for we worship a God who loves us into the next glorious moment.
Rev. Sam Alexander has been a pastor in the Presbyterian Church, USA, for more than 20 years. Sam has served congregations in Maryland and the San Francisco Bay area. He is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College, B.A., and Union Seminary in Virginia, M.Div. He serves as Adjunct Instructor in Homiletics (Preaching) at San Francisco Theological Seminary. Prior to his work in the Church Sam engraved stock certificate plates, foreign currency, and food stamps at the U.S. Banknote Company in Philadelphia, PA. He lives with his wife, Barbara, in their recently emptied nest in Fairfax, California.