“A young Abbot was counseled thus, in our own day, by a holy man: “Today many people, wishing for an excuse not to do what God asks of them, find fault with the teaching of the Holy Church and reject correct Christian belief. Instead, they choose to believe what they wish. This is akin to a man not wishing to believe that he will die, simply because the notion does not comfort him. Not only will he fail to prepare for death, as one ought to do, but he will inevitably find himself in the snare of death. Correct belief is not based on what we wish were true, but on Truth itself.”
This one is a bit tricky to write about as I am an Episcopalian and our ethos is not that we unite around a body of doctrine but around a way to pray, to worship. We believe that in praying rightly, in worshipping rightly, the Holy Spirit will create right belief within us and we don’t have to go around policing what people believe.
Having said that, there is such a thing as wrong belief. I read recently that a man said that he admired Satan because that’s power. That is wrong belief. For one thing, Satan is the enemy who lies, who tempts us to sin, and to reject God. For another, Satan is actually without power. Whatever power he had was destroyed when Jesus rose from the dead.
Another example of wrong belief is the prosperity gospel which is a plague in the USA because it twists and distorts the words of Jesus and the NT authors to make greed and selfishness ok and releases its adherents, or so they think, from their God-mandated responsibility to clothe the naked, care for the sick, feed the hungry, provide for the needy.
Over the years, as a result of my readings in the primary sources in Church History, I have come to the conclusion that right belief, orthodox Christian faith can be summed up quite briefly: The Two Great Commandments and the Apostles’ and Nicene Creed. Many people disagree with me and that is ok with me. Personally, I think we Christians spend too much time arguing with each other instead of getting out there and being better people, pursuing holiness in our daily lives and God’s truth.