Archive for the ‘theology’ Category


C Michael Patton likes to come up with several charts. They discuss the decided differences of theology and approach to orthodoxy and truth, some around the emerging church.  I get that.  It’s a framework for understanding.  I have nothing against chart, or against what Patton has done.  They are simply his view of the world.

But I still want to know where Jesus is on this chart.  Which category is he under? That’s where I want to live.  I don’t really want to follow John McArthur, Don Carson, Don Miller, NT Wright, Dan Kimball, Erwin McManus or Doug Pagitt. I want to follow Jesus.  I may learn from each of these people, but I want to learn how they are reinforcing what Jesus taught, not what they think.

What if the problem is that we define categories based on flawed human beings and not Jesus.  Everyone of these people think they are right.  Maybe the problem isn’t that each is wrong but that we aren’t sure if we’re right.


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The Point

Is Christianity about becoming theologically correct, or relationally correct?  I don’t know why but this was the question I had in my pocket, which I just found.  It was someting I wrote during the Church Basement Roadshow.

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I’ve always wondered why the church doesn’t teach the priesthood of all believers. (1 Peter 2:9)  And then I saw this cartoon. (ht) It says so much in four little panels.  And it begs the question inherent in theology that we get it wrong sometimes, which has a label called heresy.  Heresy is big for some people.  But is heresy really the problem?

So I’m gonna ask a question.  What if the problem of theology is not that we’re getting it wrong, which is an inevitability for broken people, but that you are different from me?  And I don’t really need to get it right.  I just need you to agree with my version of it.

And if I empower you to be a priest, to trust in the Spirit’s capacity to speak to you, to be who you are designed to be in Christ, then you may say something I don’t agree with.  And then I will have empowered you to disagree with me, which means that I’ve somewhat approved it.

Again, just thinking out loud.

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Question: Is wholeness dependent upon all forms of conflict being removed, or is it a state of being that resides whole in the midst of conflict?  In other words, is our wholeness dependent on God removing all forms of evil in order for us to be whole people (as in a state of afterlife) or is our wholeness found in being love when its really hard?  Doesn’t the conflict actually reveal the wholeness?

I’m looking for your opinion on this.  And I’m thinking out loud so be gracious.

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A Question On Scripture

I’m having a really great conversation about Scripture with a friend and I thought I open it up here for discussion.  Which is harder?  To say Scripture is perfect or to say its true?

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Rollins On Belief

Okay I’m really digging this book. Rollins captures what I believe is one of the central tensions between those in the emerging church and those who critique from the outside.  It’s the razor’s edge between theism and the atheism of our own cognitive belief systems.  In other words, our brokenness colors our image of God in a way that constantly tugs at us to reject our own image of God in favor of what God is revealing to us.

“As we have seen, we ought to affirm our view of God while at the same time realizing that that view is inadequate.  Hence we act both as a theist and an atheist.  This a/theist is not some agnostic middle point hovering hesitantly between the theism and atheism but, rather, actively embraces both out of profound faith.” (p 26)

Peter Rollins in How (Not) To Speak Of God

From the outside this probably sounds absurd.  Embrace atheism?  Say what?  And you can hear those in the back row running with this one.  “Those in the emerging church are now saying you have to be an atheist.  But that’s not what he’s saying.  He’s calling us to take a hard look at the image of God we create that is always filtered through our brokenness.  To constantly be embracing a new image at the expense of the old.

In other words, we are constantly deconstructing what we think in favor of what God reasserts and reveals in our lives. It also requires an understanding of our own finitude, or limited cognitive capabilities.

Staying in this tension is hard.  It requires coming to terms with our brokenness.  But that’s why its called faith, not certainty.  The temptation is to want to be done with our faith and have a concrete structure to stand on for the sake of coming to a conclusion.  And certainty in an of itself can be like a booby prize.  We think our interpretation is God incarnate but leaves us with a fowl smell of stagnation.

Rollins continues and important distinction,

This a/theistic approach is deeply deconstructive since it always prevents our ideas from scaling the throne of God.  Yet it is important to bear in mind that this deconstruction is not destruction, for the questioning it engages in is not designed to undermine God but to affirm God.

This is why I think sent Jesus, to reveal the true Imago Dei, the clarifying icon of humanity.  He is the image of God we can point to.  And yet even this is filtered through our understanding of him.  Thus the need for surrender to the Holy Spirit.

Rollins continues a little later exploring the role of doubt in belief.  He says,

This is in no way equivalent to saying that the Christian ought to adopt a position of disinterested agnosticism – far from it.  The point is only that the believer should not repress the shadow of doubt that hands over all belief.

For when we can say that we will follow God regardless of the uncertainty involved in such a decision, then real faith is born – for love acts not whenever a certain set of criteria has been met, but rather because it is in the nature of love to act.

And it is here that I think we hopefully find the bridge to communication.  Faith is faith because of our limited nature as human beings.  Faith is faith in the fires of doubt.  And in that wrestling we learn to test what is so that we can reveal what is true.  It’s not an intellectual ascension but a live experience of the truth.

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I’m reading How (Not) To Speak Of God and it is quickly becoming a favorite with each page.  The author, Peter Rollins, deals significantly with the problem of human cognition and our capacity to understand God in a meaningful way that is ultimately redemptive.  And this quote caught my attention (p 22):

The difference between the didea that our Christian traditions describe God and the view that they are worshipful responses to God is important to grasp, for while the former seeks to define, the latter is engaged with response. By charting the latter course, those within the emerging conversation perceive a very different way of understanding theology.  It is no longer thought of as a human discourse that speaks of God but rather as the place where God speaks into human discourse.  In other words, theology is understood as the site in which revelation makes it appearance in the world, the place in which theos (God) impacts, and overwhelms, the human realm of logos (reason).  Consequently we do not do theology but are rather overcome and transformed by it: we do not master it but are mastered by it.
If theology comes to be understood as the place where God speaks, then we must seek not to speak of God, but rather to be that place where God speaks.  Through our words and actions we seek to be the site of revelation through which people encounter the life-giving Word of God”

That’s brilliant from where I sit.

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