A while ago, prompted by Tiefling's suggestion that we explain a few speculation about our faith, Quizro posted a very nice writeup explaining his spiritual and religious beliefs. Also, Tiefling did a great job explaining Moderate Christianity and, prior to this challenge, drownzsurf had fleshed out his ideals of Christian Fundamentalism. One should understand that even though we all consider ourselves Christians, this does not mean we believe exactly the same things and I would like to take an opportunity explain this a little further and to share what I believe.
I believe in a spiritual realm that exists outside of the spatial and temporal confines we perceive as the physical universe. That is, I believe that heaven exists and that hell exists or will exist. Some Christians believe hell exists and some do not while others believe it does not exist yet, but it will at some time in the future. I believe in spiritual beings that can manifest themselves in our corporeal world, though I do not believe for the most part that they are pulling our marionette strings, manipulating our day to day lives. I also believe that a part of us exists in this ethereal plain and when our physical bodies die, this soul remains.
I believe in one God. If one were to look back far enough, one would find that Judaism, Christianity, and Islam all stem from the same source. I think it's rational to assume we all worship the same divinity, though we go about it in different ways. Many Christians (and Muslims at matter) have a very hard time with this, believing that their God is the true God and the other god is the false or dead god. For instance, I do not believe a Mormon prays to a different God or a different Jesus than other Christians. I believe I would be arrogant to insist anyone is worshiping thin air, regardless of their particular doctrinal variations.
It is my understanding that in order for one to consider one's self a Christian there are only a few simple beliefs one must subscribe to. These are: that Jesus of Nazareth was a human embodiment of Yahweh, the God of Abraham; that Jesus died and was resurrected three days later; and that he did all this so that humanity may be forgiven of our inherent sin. These three things are hardly ever disputed amongst Christians and even though any theology that extends beyond this is pretty irrelevant to one's spiritual salvation, wars have been fought over these trivial conflicting interpretations.
I do not put any faith in organized religion, traditions, or dogma. These are things created by men, not God. Over the last two thousand years people have corrupted Biblical teachings to fit their own personal agendas. Christianity is not about killing, torturing, or simply disliking non-believers. Quite the contrary, it is about love; love for your neighbor, love for your enemy. I find it interesting that so many miss this concept, but the majority of Biblical teachings talk about getting along with other people, tolerance. When Jesus was asked to sum up all the law with just one law his answer was to Treat others the way you would like them to treat you. This truly does sums things up.
I believe the Bible is a collection of historical accounts, poetry, and spiritual lessons that were written and compiled by men but inspired by God. Some believe because the Bible was written by men it is imperfect and a word for word interpretation is unrealistic and one must seek the messages it contains through study. Others believe that because it was inspired by God the Bible is infallible and its messages can be found simply by digest. Personally, I believe a little of both.
I was raised in an Evangelical Pentecostal denomination called the Assemblies of God. I have been baptized and have taken communion. Also, Pentecostals believe someone can be filled up with God which instills a type of euphoria sometimes referred to as being drunk on God. When this happens people can begin speaking in tongues, a weird sort of gibberish, which Pentecostals consider praises to God. Though I no longer claim any denomination, I still believe in being filled with the spirit of God.
I do not believe any person is holier than another person. One could scour the Bible and never find the world holier, only holy and holiest. For instance, I disagree with elevating the Pope or Mary the mother of Jesus to a pseudo-godlike status. Also, I have met many arrogant preachers who see themselves in a higher regard than their congregants, as if they have some sort of pipeline to God that the others do not.
Finally, all of this, some of this, or none of this could be false but it is truth to me. That's the beauty of faith. Faith is the ability to believe something without undeniable proof. I am human and fallible and I do not pretend to have all the answers. I would advise that one be careful of those who pretend to. Each of the thousands of sects claim they are the correct faith and that the others are wrong. What I do know is that we should be good to each other, love one another, and try to do our part in making this world a better place.