I have recently been reading "The New Testament and the People of God" by N.T. Wright. Throughout a major section of the book, Wright provided a detailed description of Judaism, particularly in the first century. He does this to give a context for the work/teaching/lives of Jesus and Paul and also for the first century church. In the chapter on "The Beliefs of Israel", Wright says:
"To call Judaism 'a faith' is actually, in one sense, a piece of Christian cultural imperialism, imagining that because Christianity thinks of itself as 'a faith' other peoples do the same. Judaism chatacteristically thinks of itself as a way, a halakah, a life-path, a way of being-in-the-world"
This statement went off like a bomb in my thoughts. This is not to say that beliefs aren't important or even essential (as Wright goes on to point out later). They are simply neither "the point" or an end unto themselves. Belief is the means by which we become what we are called to be. Beliefs are meant to be catalytic to mission. The goal/ mission of the church is not simply to get others to mentally agree with the same ideas as we do. The church is not simply an "intellectual and moral society". The church is a catalyst for the Kingdom of God. Our "beliefs" should lead to a shared worldview in which we see ourselves inside the story of God, as the people of God, on a mission from God, for the world.
P.S. I received an advance copy of "BodyPrayer" by Doug Pagitt in the mail a couple of days ago. I plan to post a review in the very near future.