Saturday, 7 November 2009

head-aching theological thinking...

July 10, 2009

Dear God, (You are my Father, my Papa, aren’t You? Yes, I AM wrapped in Your everlasting arms… and You do not let go those who are in Your arms!)

Father, I have spent a lot of time the past 2 or 3 days – including many hours yesterday – trying to understand – trying until my head aches and my body is exhausted! – that whole penal substitutionary atonement / vicarious atonement / governmental vs penal / Calvinism vs Armenianism / biblical vs early church fathers vs reformation vs liberal vs emergent (etc etc) thinking on these topics [yep, there was even Mormon input in one of those blogs!]… and oh, Father… it seems like for a lot of people, “doctrinal purity” (their particular take on it of course: they simply cannot imagine how anyone could think differently than their particular “corner on the truth” … even if vast numbers of believers throughout the life of the church have either had a different take on it, or have had a wonderful, strong, close relationship with You, their Savior, without having codified, in precise detail, philosophically and mechanically, the doctrinal details (but I know myself that all my life I’ve had an idea that that “intellectual, rational, apologetical, theological, etc” approach is what makes “great Christians” vs run-of-the-mill, uneducated, well, you know, kind of bumpkin, Sunday-go-to-meeting types… You know… kind of like the Pharisees vs the disciples [can’t really put You in there, in that comparison, Jesus… You just totally don’t fit any of their classification systems! Although at first they expected You to be in the country bumpkin category… but You blew that assumption out of the water in a hurry… and boy, oh boy, when Your Spirit came upon Your disciples, that blew them out of the Pharisee’s categories, too… so that they could only shake their heads in wonder, and note that “they had been with Jesus!”] (And THAT is the category I want to be in… the “been with Jesus” category!!!)

Father, when I listened to that interview between Paul Young, the author of The Shack and the pro-penal-substitutionary-atonement guy (who kept saying, over and over, “but penal substitutionary atonement is the very key, cornerstone, etc, of the gospel”), I just kept shaking my head, Father, because everything Young said, was greeted with a “but… but… but” (though graciously, thank goodness!) – it was like the interviewer guy could not even open his ears and mind to at least listen to thoughts, ideas, etc, that were not couched in the precise terminology and codification that to him signifies truth. It seems to me like some people are terrified of not “knowing for sure” about every detail of what they “believe” or of “what the Bible says” … (not to mention the thought of “mystery” … or allowing relationship with God – which maybe seems to be too messy, too unpredictable and uncontrollable, too big and awesome and mysterious, too out-of-the-box…)

Papa, the Mormon guy went on about how his “take” was more accurate because he had not only the Bible, but also the three volumes of additional “scriptures” the Mormons adhere to… and of course Catholics have their papal traditions… and a lot of Protestants have their “Westminster Confessions” and other similar documents (even the “church fathers” had their Nicene Creed etc… which avoided some areas they disagreed on and codified other areas which resulted in those who held to those “disagree upon” areas being pushed out…) oh Papa, Jesus, Holy Spirit, how sad it must make You… You know, You ARE complicated to our little minds! You are so far beyond our comprehension – and maybe it’s just fear of that, fear of “heresy,” (wow that charge needs to be handled carefully!!!) that makes people get so “controlling” and – well, “religious!”

…. Proverbs 14:21 “…happy is he who is gracious to the poor… 23. In all labor there is profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty…. 31. He who oppresses the poor taunts his Maker, but he who is gracious to the needy honors Him.” I’ve really missed street ministry the last 2 or 3 weeks….

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