Monday, July 18, 2011

theology (my doctrine is bigger than your doctrine)

I am an insecure man, that wants to be liked. I want to be respected more than I want to be liked. And, to be honest, I actually do care about what my peers think about me. I like to believe that I am capable of acting beyond this sinful limitation, but sometimes I don't.

For instance, I will often name drop when discussing theology. It is an especially successful name drop if I can claim personal relationship with the person. Like, "my friend Alan Hirsch" Or "My mentor Ched Myers, or Neil Cole says" See, I just did it again. In other words, I am well read, and connected, and my thoughts are the thoughts of BIG people. They are BIG thoughts, and I am a BIG thinker. I read BIG books about BIG things. And my theology is right, and correct and you should agree with me.

Kind of reminds me of driving around in a really BIG truck.

But this is the problem, Christ chose a bunch of working class blokes, that most likely would not have known their way around any BIG theology tomes. Christ was not interested in the scribes, and all their BIG knowledge. He was interested in living BIG. Not wealthy BIG, but BIG in the understanding of God's kingdom. The early church was called the way, not the truth.

Lest someone get the wrong idea, I am not saying that knowledge is wrong. Nor that learning is not important. We must learn, and strive for understanding. But it is my contention that the way I live, is more important than what I think. Or even further, if my way of life is not in line with the way of the cross, I cannot even truly understand how to know, the truth. Correct practice is more important than correct knowledge, and in fact correct knowledge can only come from correct practice.

Let me give you a little example. We have two people in our community that do not believe in a personal God. Yet they believe in the teachings of Jesus. They are trying to live out these teachings, and are therefore part of our community. I would say they have the wrong doctrine, the wrong belief system. But they are feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, caring for the good earth. While many people that do believe the "right things" ignore the plight of the poor, and consume the resources of God's good creation with no thought. In our Western church mindset the one is damned, the other is saved, (though maybe not living out their discipleship as much as they should) But my question is who is truly being a disciple of Christ? Did the fishermen who followed Jesus understand the trinity? the various atonement theories? the basic ideologies of a Christian world view? Nope in fact even after the resurrection they were confused, "so, you gonna kick the Romans out now general Jesus" (my paraphrase)

So what is my point? Having all of your ideas about God right (and of course yours are right) does not make you a follower of Christ. Following Christ means walking the path of your own execution, for the sake of love, whether you understand it all or not.

And now for a really BIG name drop

Jesus said, "Love God, Love your Neighbor, and everyone is your neighbor" Love is an action word



john jensen said...

Oh and one more thing. I understand that sometimes knowledge will proceed action. That we must know Jesus in order to follow him. But I live in a world that has a bunch of people with BIG ideas, and not so big action.


@bwrobbins said...

I really appreciated this post, and the difference between "right" theology and faithful praxis. To my famous friend...just kidding.
My question, which I suppose is more in general than for you to answer specifically, (and is posed as an inquiry, not with judgment) is this: what prevents folks like those in your community from following & believing Jesus' words, except for those that pertain to him being God? Just pondering, thanks again for rhe thoughtful post -@bwrobbins

john jensen said...

I have discussed this with one of them. He believes that the story of Jesus is to some degree mythologized and though this does not nullify what is said we need to look at the story logically and understand the lesson behind the myth


gad said...

Good post. I agree with your view on the whole 'i'm right and your not' mentality the plagues Christianity today. Your points about the disciples not knowing what the trinity is, etc is also good. I will say that I do think a solid theology is important as it can reveal a great understanding of God through his Word. But of course this has to be tempered with love and not bickering between different groups over who is right and wrong. Looking forward to more posts from you.

seaotter said...

I came here all worked up and ready to disagree with you, and then you go and type a bunch of stuff that I can't argue with. Spoilsport. The only thing I might mention is that someone with all of the correct knowledge and theology would be living it out if it was truly correct, but that is nitpicking, and as my mother says, "You know what nitpickers end up with? They end up with a handful of nits."

Adrian Cameron said...

Love it John!