Wednesday, August 06, 2003

About Theology

You may have noticed that there hasn't been a Theological Foray here in a while, and one of any quality for even longer. This is because, in several areas, I'm tired. I'm tired of politics. I'm tired of apologetics. I'm tired of theology. I'm tired of history. Why? In part, it's because it's summer and I generally stick to fiction over the summer, since I read enough nonfiction during the school year (I'm currently on an Alexandre Dumas kick; he's one of the few things I think France has given the world that's of any value). Partly it's because the War on Terror has been tiring me out intellectually. Partly it's due to debating minutiae with people just trying to get my goat.

In response, I've decided that now is a time to act, rather than think (not that I've given up the former entirely). That, and being a missionary teacher are taking a lot of time and energy. The current scandalous behavior of my denomination has made me feel very defeated lately, and I probably picked up a bug from one of my students. That's not complaining. I'm very glad to be doing what I'm doing right now, and I'm sure I'll miss it once I go back to school.

I've never really felt comfortable with simply going up to a stranger and saying "Guess what?!? Jesus loves you!" I don't think that's very effective, and is probably more harmful than helpful. I prefer doing the right thing and figuring that if people want to know why I'm doing something good for them or someone else, they'll ask. I read recently the statement that "ideas divide, mission unites," and I really believe that. When you stop and look at all the "flavors" of Christianity, many of which hate each other, you can only laugh or cry. The more I look at some issues, the more I wonder not only why I was ever interested in them, but why they're such hang-ups.

Repeat after me: eschatology is a useless pursuit. Read Daniel and Revelation, make some decisions, and then either wait until you die and it's revealed to you or it actually happens and you can take notes. I don't care if you favor Premillenialism, Postmillenialism, Amillenialism, or any other possibilities. None of us knows for sure, and it doesn't matter anyway. Calvinism vs. Arminism (Predestination vs. Free Will) is almost as useless. Follow the Great Commandment (love God, love your neighbor) and the Great Commission (go and make disciples of all the nations), and you'll do okay. Baptism? If you believe that it's very, very helpful for salvation but not utterly essential, then it doesn't really matter if it's by dunking or dripping or as a baby or as an adult. Calvinists especially ought not have any problems with this one. Communion? Whether it's the literal body and blood of Christ, the heavenly body and blood, or simply a memorial, the point is that you ought to take it on a regular basis and have repented before doing so.

Being an Evangelical, I often talk with Protestants who bash Catholics (I sometimes see Catholics snub Protestants, too). Half the time, it's rooted in ignorance anyway, but I especially can't stand it when it's insinuated that Catholics aren't real Christians. It usually throws Protestants off-guard when I tell them that I'm not a Protestant and that I don't believe in sola scriptura. The point is that it's beyond stupid for Christians to belittle their brothers and sisters in Christ over trivial things. I would happily attend Catholic services (being respectful enough not to take communion but to simply ask for a blessing), and I've happily attended uber-Protestant services where I thought the service was devoid of beauty but had enough heart and faith to make up for it (I'm leaving out the Orthodox because I very simply don't know all that much about them in practice).

What am I saying? I might just be rambling, incoherent at what my own denomination has done. I think what I'm trying to do is wrap my mind around why Christians continue to attack each other instead of putting aside the petty differences and doing God's work.

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