American Christianity has created a culture of theological permanence, where individuals are expected to learn a set of beliefs and latch onto them for the rest of their lives. Many of our first theological beliefs were probably taught to us in Sunday school, which was part of a church, which was represented by a denomination, which had its own parochial schools and Bible colleges.
Theoretically, Christians can go from preschool to seminary hearing the exact same religious doctrines. Theologies are often considered too “valuable,” “right,” and “holy” to change or question. Therefore, pastors debate instead of dialogue, professors preach instead of listen, schools propagate instead of discuss, and faith-based communities ultimately reject any form of honest questioning and doubt.
Indoctrination is preferred over critical thinking, certainty is favored over doubt, and we expect our leaders to offer black-and-white answers. A change of theology is viewed as weakness, poor exegesis, and a sign of insecurity. “If they change their views now, how can I believe anything they say in the future?” Christians often perceive change as a break in trust and a loss of identity.
Imagine if John Piper suddenly altered his views on Calvinism and became an Arminian, or if Mark Driscoll publicly became an egalitarian? They would be publicly rejected and humiliated, and their followers would be lost, angry, and confused.
But theology — our study and beliefs about God — should be a natural process involving change instead of avoiding it. Our God is too big and too wonderful to completely understand by the time we graduate high school, or college, or get married, or have children, or retire. Our life experiences, relationships, education, exposure to different cultures and perspectives continually affect the way we look at God. Our faith is a journey, a Pilgrim’s Progress, and our theology will change. And while we may not agree with a person’snew theological belief, we need to stop seeing the inherent nature of change as something negative.
Frank Viola (via foundworthy)
I mean, I get the point here that these are secondary issues and should not be the focus, but I really don’t know how much theology you could be discussing if no one knows any of these things about each other at all. And discussing theology should certainly not be viewed or treated as (or, for that matter, allowed to become) a hindrance to loving Christ and each other.
If Christ hadn’t risen, I’m pretty sure food would be my religion.
Cities have the illusion of being hotbeds for sin, corruption, and human depravity because they are more physically exemplified and witnessed within the context of hundreds of thousands of people living within a very small geographic proximity. Thus, the sins of the city are much more obvious than the ones of the suburbs and more rural areas — but not less prevalent.
In some ways, people living in cities have a faith that is much more honest and transparent because they are open about the issues they are dealing with. Meanwhile, it’s much easier to hide struggles, fear, and sins in churches that are less used to observing and dealing with conflict. Therefore, non-urban communities sometimes live under the fantasy of having fewer problems, even though data proves that rates for divorce, drug use, alcohol use, addiction, violence and, crime are nearly identical — and sometimes even higher — than those of urban areas.
Many Christians have a confidence problem. They love Christ but are ashamed of everything associated with him. They want to be known as a Christian — just not that type of Christian. You know the type: the Westboro Baptists of the world; the scumbag televangelists on late-night cable; the fear-mongering preachers spewing apocalyptic prophecies; the proselytizers that scream at people outside of baseball stadiums; the celebrities claiming stupid things in the name of God; the “friends” who post bigoted messages on Facebook; the politicians who manipulate faith communities to serve their agendas; the anti-science, anti-environment, anti-women, anti-homosexuality, and anti-everything Christians who basically spread negativity wherever they go — the people who drag Christ’s name through the mud.
But the Gospel of Christ is a story of redemption, and even the Christian legacy — filled with violence, greed, duplicity, exclusion, and injustice — can be set right by the love of Christ.
G.K. Chesterton, “Irish Impressions”
I was reading this paragraph, and there were two really good points in it that I wanted to quote, but I couldn’t decide which and the layout of the paragraph is such that I’m not even sure how to split one from the other. So, I apologize for the massive wall of text, but I hope you read it.
So I’m reading Chesterton’s “Irish Impressions,” and he has a few times now come back to the difference between how the Irish view families and histories and how the English do, and I am growing more and more surprised to learn that there are people who don’t view it in the manner he describes of Ireland. I guess things have carried over surprisingly well.
I have no plans today. At all. I am continuing to take requests for drawings, and my ask box is open for pretty much anything.