Thursday, April 13, 2006

Why It Matters

Last post, there was some good discussion over a variety of topics, including the TNIV, Open Theism, time, omniscience, sovereignty, etc. Many thanks to those who took the time and effort to respond intelligently to the topic at hand.

In minor-league, in-house theological debate, I find that there is often an undercurrent of "do these things we are discussing really matter?" I found my own mind wandering there, and I think some of the others expressed similar sentiment, implicitly or explicitly. Does it matter whether or not God knows the future? Does it matter if He exists outside of linear time or moves with it or some combination therein? Does it really matter whether or not God put "people" as opposed to "man" in the original Scripture texts? Does Open Theism or relative thinking or tradition pose a threat to how Christians relate to God? After all, we're all Christ-centered, heaven-bound believers, right? Blatant heresy aside, since we have the Jesus thing down, that's all that matters - right?

I hope most of us would agree that those things do matter; where we would probably disagree is to what extent they matter. To me, how one answers those questions and others like them will determine how you view and therefore how you worship God - this is no small matter. It simply won't do to stand on the shore of simple knowledge and refuse to wade - much less swim - into the ocean of deep theology, citing "mystery! mystery!" as our reason. Even if you don't agree with that statement, I hope you realize at the very least, discussing these topics matters for this reason: Christianity is not mere religion; it is relationship.
I find myself stupified during those times when I realize how often I speak of God as though He were not here. How often we speak of Him as though He we little more than an object to be studied! And so to say "Christ is my all" yet leave the rest of theology behind is much like telling my wife "What does it matter if I actually understand who you are or not? At least we're married." This may work in a religion, but not in a relationship. What kind of friend/husband/father/son/brother, etc., would I be if I did not understand who you are, how you think, what you like or dislike, how you operate? I have pointed out before that if you had a wrong perspective of my wife and her character, I would not be unjust in (appropriately) correcting you and leading you toward a more accurate perception of who she is. How much more so with God! There are holes and blind spots in our theology, in our knowledge and understanding of God. This should be something that motivates us to engage each other in such discussion, for I do not know Him as well as I ought - nor do you, brothers and sisters.

I think it can be okay and good and healthy that Christians disagree (assuming this is done in a right manner - and how difficult it can be not to give or take up an offense!); we shy away, because this is often done so poorly, but we need not fear the scraping of iron sharpening iron. And though we may disagree, many thanks to those who are willing to engage in proper debate, not for debate's sake, but for the sake of loving God with all that we are. Our belief in Him and our knowledge of His perfect attributes adds nothing to Him; our doubt takes nothing away from Him. But let us never cease to strive to love Him with all heart, mind, soul, and strength. At times, that may mean holding back the tongue. But there will be times - perhaps more often than not - when it means speaking up and engaging one another in honest dialogue. Sometimes it means swimming out past the breakers and the safety of the shore for deeper waters and deeper love.

Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers. ~ 1 Tim. 4:16


Diddy said...

This is the best thing you have ever written. Period.

. . . and not because you're taking the "Quaker Road," but because this is where it's at - drawing nearer to God through knowing Him better . . . and better. That's the thing. Amen.

j truitt said...

i don't know what the quaker road is...but i liked this post.

Oldhops said...

Relationship is very Important, the most important maybe. At the same time the boundaries that set up our worship and perception of our God are vital as well, which you said. I think one of the reasons that this is true is for how we interact with our God. For instance with boundaries or thelogy that says God is all about Grace and I see him as my brother. This person is not seeing God rounded as the father who can become angry and hate the sin that we find it conviniante to wallow in. (Im not saying God is pissed off, just that without a full view we can miss parts of HIm that are important) So the theology is there whether we identify it or not. With out discussion we become like concrete, mixed up and well set. I was really challeneged by the thoughts of everyone in the last discussion.

So thanks D for setting up this atmosphere, and to everyone else for towing the line. I just pray that God would give us discernment and open hearts.

van.diesel said...

Thanks, y'all. I appreciate the comments.

Allie said...

Word Jason. Word.

Allie said...

by the way, a photograph of feet is extremely elusive and mysterious to me. theologically, it blows me away.

Lex said...

"Iron sharpening iron" is about swords, right? I think it's important that we psoture ourselves in these discussions as having the intention of sharpening, and not cutting or piercing.

Good post, by the way.