Q & R: Do and Don’t Believe?

Here’s the (implied) question:

I’ve done a great deal of religious/spiritual reading, thinking, and praying over the years. I realize this is a lifelong and neverending undertaking. My current location on this journey is:
1. I believe that there is a God, that He is good, that he is all-powerful, all-knowing, and that he not only loves us, but that He is love.
2. I believe that Jesus Christ is not like any human being who ever walked on this earth. Was He God Himself personified as a human? Was He another Godly Being (the “Son” of God) whom God sent to earth to teach us to be more God-like? Or was He the only man whom God touched so completely so as to render him utterly God-like in this lifetime, as opposed to a future lifetime? I’m not sure, but I do believe that Jesus was different from any human being, past or present.
3. I believe that a bunch of Jesus’ contemporaries sincerely believed that Jesus rose from the dead and appeared before them. As the saying goes, they would not have “died for a lie,” nor could all of them have been collectively insane. Nor is it likely that they all experienced some mass hallucination via some mind-altering drug, or that Jesus was a master magician who duped them all.
4. I believe there is something special about the Bible. It is not just an ordinary book. Beyond that, I’m not quite sure what it is.
5. I DO NOT BELIEVE in eternal damnation.
6. I DO NOT BELIEVE in that there’s a place called Hell where “bad” people are cast into a fire, whether forever or even for a second.
7. I DO NOT BELIEVE in eternal punishment.
8. I believe in universal reconciliation.
9. I believe in asking God directly for answers.
10. I DO NOT BELIEVE that the Bible is necessary for spiritual growth and understanding, and I am not quite sure whether it is more harmful than helpful.
I am interested in discussing my thoughts more, particularly with others who either share them or have opinions about them that might lead to a greater common understanding of these profound wonders.
I would greatly appreciate your thoughts, in particular.

Here’s the R:

Thanks for sharing. My response is mainly in the form of a few suggestions.
First, I think you’re wise to look for a community or conversation space where you can interact with others about your beliefs. We all need a community of people who see things similarly and differently so that we can have something in common and yet experience the challenge of different perspectives.
Second, I think you’re wise to articulate where you are currently on your journey, always remembering that it is, as you say, a never-ending process. When people assert “I BELIEVE” or “I DO NOT BELIEVE” without that awareness, they tend to drive away people who aren’t right where they are at this moment. I also think it’s important (as you do in #4) to be able to honestly say, “I don’t know … I’m not sure about that.”
Third, a good way to take things a level deeper when you find some conversation partners would be to ask good “why” questions. Good why questions, of course, can be about reasons and logic (what are the reasons for this belief?), but they’re also about stories (what’s the story of how you came to this belief?). Sadly, when people stay at the level of reasons, they often end up fighting. But when they inquire about stories, understanding can happen – with or without agreement.
If you try to listen not for agreement/disagreement, but for understanding, the quality of your sincere curiosity about your conversation partners will set the stage for them to be sincerely interested in your journey as well.
It’s a rare and beautiful thing to enter another person’s world without judgment, with a sincere desire to understand … reflecting the love of God that you spoke of in #1 above.