I’ve come a long way in my faith and my beliefs since high school.
I was heavily influenced by the conservative, immigrant fundamental-esque beliefs.

I no longer think I’m there any more. I hesitate to use the words “evolve” or “progress” because that’s denoting that those beliefs are not quite — well — “evolved.” And that’s not fair to those who firmly stand in their beliefs — many of whom are dear people to me.

But there is a stark difference from who I was 10 years ago (entering seminary) and who I am today — for better or worse.

And I feel the constant need to grow; to explore; to question; to discern; to prove; to research; to debunk; to embrace; to learn; to test etc, when it comes to God and my faith.

Of course, this can lead me to sway with the wind; or embrace whatever the theological flavor of the month may be for that season.

So I had to lay out some non-negotiables when it comes to my faith and beliefs.

  • Jesus is the Son of God
  • Jesus died for my sin
  • Jesus gives us a fuller, better picture of who God is and reveals God’s heart to us
  • I believe Scripture to be an integral part of my faith. I believe that the Bible is God-breathed and God inspired. I strongly disagree with people who reject scripture because they feel that it is not relevant; it’s an anthology of human writings; and so forth.
  • Prayer is a vital part of faith.

There are more, but those are just a few of the bigger things.
I started thinking of these things because of conversations with folks I had in Seattle. During that week, I also finished reading Revival by Adam Hamilton where he writes

The evangelical gospel without the social gospel becomes spiritual narcissism; the social gospel without the evangelical gospel fails to address the root problem of the human condition and leaves us without the power to be transformed and renewed by Christ (pg 117).

I was reminded of how much we try to make it an “either/or” game. If you’re an evangelist, you’re not going to be concerned about social justice. If you’re all for social justice, you’re more an advocate than a believer. Of course that’s a general statement.
But it’s funny how many times I’ve been asked, “How can you think that way?” as if I’m supposed to subscribe to one line of thought (and many argue that I should).

I realize that my world views are still changing and growing. And personally, I find it hard to hold onto the same beliefs I’ve had since I was 16 when everything else about me has changed since 16. The core of my beliefs will always remain the same(my non-negotiables) but I enjoy being challenged with new thoughts whether I agree with them or not, because it forces me to think about why I do agree with them or why I cannot agree.
I’m not the smartest person in the room. I don’t think I’ll ever be. And I’m okay with that. In fact, I’d be more concerned if I was the smartest person in the room. But, God gave me a brain and I — for the most part — enjoy using it.


4 thoughts on “Non-Negotiables

  1. Great post! I’ve often thought the same thing. I even use the term non- negotiables. I have a few more but I think it is important for everyone to realize that people’s non- negotiables might be different. Thanks for sharing this.

    1. Everyone’s non-negotiables should be the same as mine! Of course, I kid. Just because they are my non-negotiables, doesn’t mean I think it should be everyone else’s. I recently had a conversation of someone who doesn’t believe in any atonement theory and I was like — whoa. That’s really cool, but I don’t think I can go there.
      Thanks for reading and commenting!

  2. Joseph, this is Sung Woon your first cousin living in Virginia. I am so glad to know that your words are influential not only to many Christians but also pastors and spiritual leaders. A couple of District Superintendent of Virginia Conference refer your thoughts on faith and life to pastors in their districts. And I read it to find that it is written by my first cousin. I am so proud of you!!!! Please continue to share your thoughtful and insightful faith experiences, ideas, and suggestions for the body of Christ can grow in spirit and faith. God bless you, your family, and your ministry. Say hello to your parents!!!!

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