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Center for Action and Contemplation

An Evolving Faith

Monday, December 5, 2022

Pastor and author Molly Baskette describes how Jesus lived from a place of growth and inclusion instead of certainty and scapegoating, and calls us to do the same:

All claims to the contrary, Jesus did not preach from a place of rigid binaries and judgments but from a place of continual becoming. He befriended outcasts and lived on the margins of society while staying in relationship with wealthy and powerful people, some of whom became patrons and disciples. He lived in a patriarchal society, but let women correct him and expand his understanding of his mission. Innocent of the trumped-up charges, he allowed himself to be murdered by state violence to expose the injustice of that violence. He asked us to love our enemies, and to bless those who curse us [Luke 6:27–28]. He warned that those who lived by the sword would die by it [Matthew 26:52].

The churches I’ve served strive to follow Jesus in this “third way”: neither returning evil for evil nor caving in to it. Our God does not hate all the same people we do, nor does our God particularly want us to be rich or admired. Our faith, frail as it is sometimes, is also flexible. It is self-correcting as we have profound encounters with people who are different from us and are exposed to new experiences and ideas. If we are willing to be humble, we can continuously root out our own biases, the weeds of white supremacy that are deeply seeded into the soil of our culture, religion, and country.

Staying in the liminal place of holy uncertainty is deeply uncomfortable. But certainty in the life of faith doesn’t serve us well. At some point, the idea or theology or God-image we have adopted may become provably false. Then we’ll have to decide to double down on it or abandon it, which may feel like abandoning God or faith altogether, and leave us entirely unmoored. [1]

For Father Richard, evolutionary thinking and faith are inherently linked:

Evolutionary thinking is, for me, the very core concept of faith, where we trust that God alone steers this mysterious universe, where there is clearly much hidden from us and much still before us—and where “eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and the human heart has not conceived, what God has prepared for those who love God” (1 Corinthians 2:9).

Evolutionary thinking is contemplative thinking. It leaves the full field of the future in God’s hands and agrees to humbly hold the present with what it only tentatively knows for sure. Evolutionary thinking agrees to knowing and not knowing simultaneously. It sends us on a trajectory, where the ride is itself the destination, and the goal is never clearly in sight. To stay on the ride, to trust the trajectory, to know it is moving, and moving somewhere always better, is just another way to describe faith. We are all in evolution all the time, it seems to me. [2]


[1] Molly Phinney Baskette, How to Begin When Your World Is Ending: A Spiritual Field Guide to Joy Despite Everything (Minneapolis, MN: Broadleaf Books, 2022), 113–114.

[2] Adapted from Richard Rohr, “Evolution Is Another Name for Growth,” Oneing 4, no. 2, Evolutionary Thinking (Fall 2016): 112, 115–116. Available as PDF download.

Explore Further. . .

Image credit: Benjamin Yazza, Untitled 09 (detail), United States, photograph, used with permission. Tory Hallenburg, Walking on Water (detail), 2018, United States, photograph, Unsplash. Carrie Grace Littauer, Untitled 10 (detail), 2022, United States, photograph, used with permission. Jenna Keiper & Leslye Colvin, 2022, triptych art, United States. Click here to enlarge image.

Image inspiration: Venturing beyond the monochrome of certainty, we walk into water and on ground we cannot always see. Our ripples spread beyond ourselves into this movement of faith.

Story from Our Community:

I was moved by the Daily Meditations about the Quest for the Holy Grail, specifically the emphasis on having the right questions rather than the right answers. This spoke to me since over the past 5 years, I have nursed lingering questions about why my daughter decided to end her life at just 18 years old. I used to search for answers that explained her mental state but I am coming to accept the simple truth that I will never really have the answer. I pray that in her present state she now understands the mystery of her life. —Brian L.

Share your own story with us.

Prayer for our community:

God, Lord of all creation, lover of life and of everything, please help us to love in our very small way what You love infinitely and everywhere. We thank You that we can offer just this one prayer and that will be more than enough,  because in reality every thing and every one is connected, and nothing stands alone. To pray for one part is really to pray for the whole, and so we do. Help us each day to stand for love, for healing, for the good, for the diverse unity of the Body of Christ and all creation, because we know this is what You desire: as Jesus prayed, that all may be one. We offer our prayer together with all the holy names of God, we offer our prayer together with Christ, our Lord, Amen.

Listen to the prayer.


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In a world of fault lines and fractures, how do we expand our sense of self to include love, healing, and forgiveness—not just for ourselves or those like us, but for all? This monthly email features wisdom and stories from the emerging Christian contemplative movement. Join spiritual seekers from around the world and discover your place in the Great Story Line connecting us all in the One Great Life. Conspirare. Breathe with us.