There are a lot of manifestos out there. You need one of your own.

Photo: Stumptown Printers
Photo: Stumptown Printers

Google manifesto.

After you sift through the Wikipedia and Dictionary.com definitions, you will realize that there are a lot of them.

Some are famous or widely known like the Communist Manifesto, some are not. While they could be a book, they may also appear in the form of novels, blogs or songs. In some cases, they are full of powerful and thought provoking words. Other times, they are just someone’s incoherent ramblings spilled onto the page.

To some people the idea of a manifesto seems trivial, that it is a waste of time. To some people, whether it is well known or not, a manifesto is someone else’s opinion that doesn’t matter to them.

For others, however, a manifesto is the grandest of statements. They are a declaration of truth, not opinion. And as such should be shared with the world.

There was a time when I would have been a part of the anti-manifesto group, but that has changed. So much so that I believe that it could be a spiritual discipline, a faith exercise to write a manifesto.

Greg Boyd of ReKnew.org began to write out his personal manifesto a while back. He decided that he would unpack and address all the things that he believed. From the Person-hood of Jesus to God and His nature, Boyd is expressing and evaluating what he thinks and believes about Christianity.

It was upon reading and contemplating the things that Boyd wrote that i jumped over to the pro-manifesto camp. It occurred to me that this spiritual exercise is something that we all need to participate in, something that we all need to do. We all need our own manifestos.

Here are three reasons why you should start writing one today.

1. DISCOVER WHAT YOU BELIEVE

For some of us, we believe whatever we believe because we’re told to.

Our parents raised us in this way or that, and we have always taken their word for it, that things are as they said they are.

While that works for touching a hot stove, your personal beliefs shouldn’t be something that is force fed to you.

You need to decide what you believe, it is your faith, not your parent’s faith that you live out. You need your own.

Writing down what you believe and why you believe it in a manifesto gives you the exercise, the experience of actually establishing your beliefs. You can see what and why you believe what you believe.

If you don’t know what to write down, you don’t know what you do believe, it creates a beautiful oppurtunity. You are in a perfect position to start discovering it. Or you can start by writing down what you don’t believe, what you don’t agree with.

Either way, writing down your beliefs in a personalized spiritual manifesto will help establish and solidify your own faith.

2. REFINE YOUR BELIEFS

More often than not we know what we believe. The issue is we don’t know how to phrase it. When we try to verbally express our faith it comes off our tongues all kinds of wrong.

Writing a manifesto offers something that speaking our belief doesn’t – the chance to get it right. Writing down what you believe takes away the chance you will screw it up in a speech. It gives you an opportunity to think through and properly express what you may not be able to verbally.

Maybe most beneficial of all, writing a manifest takes time. For some people finding the right wording or the example to perfectly explain doesn’t come as quickly as they would like. Taking the time to write it down in a manifesto gives you all the opportunities to read, research and find exactly what you need to make your faith make sense.

And if at first it doesn’t make sense, erase it and try again. You can’t do that when you are talking about it.

In a manifesto, you can put all the polish on your beliefs, you can take all the time you need to, so you understand what you believe all the better.

Photo: jjpacres
Photo: jjpacres

3. ABANDON YOUR BELIEFS

I’m not saying by writing a manifesto you will reason away your faith.

In writing a manifesto, it is very likely that you will realize that some of the things that you believe clash. Your opinion on a subject may butt heads with another opinion, forcing you to reevaluate where you stand. And you may have to take a stand on one and leave the other.

A popular one may be the idea of a loving God that is also a very angry, vengeful God.

You may have to put away some childish thinking and accept the hard realities that adult logic and reason presents.

This is not a bad thing, but can be very challenging for sure.

Having your beliefs and why they are your beliefs written down can help you see what needs to stay and what needs to go. A manifesto is a good place to do that.

The apostle Paul told the church in the days of old,

“…work out your faith (salvation) with fear and trembling…(Philippians 2:12)”

Work it out, figure it out. Write down, contemplate and evaluate exactly what you do believe. And why.

A manifesto is a perfect way for us all to do that; the working out of our faith, in a very simple and practical way. It gives us all opportunities to discover what we do believe, refine our beliefs so that they are not jumbled messes and abandon what beliefs do not have a place to stand in us.

I would encourage us all to work on a manifesto. Who knows? Maybe we will see Christian Thought Sandbox write its own.

Until then,

Shalom.

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