August 20, 2018

Monday with Michael Spencer: You Need to Get Rid of Some of Your Theology

Originally posted in 2009

Some of you won’t like what I’m about to say, but trust me, I’m not shooting at you. I’m not shooting at anyone. I’m trying to be pastoral, if there’s any hope that I have any pastoral instincts left.

Here’s the word: Some of us need to let go of some of our theology.

***bottle flies through air***

No, seriously. Some of us need to get to the trash can and empty out some of what’s in the theology file.

***tomato in flight***

Some of you people have got some seriously bad theology, and it’s stinkin’ up your life.

***pitchforks and torches sighted***

I’m telling you this for your own good. Some- not all- but some of what you’re holding on to so tenaciously is messing you up. It may be messing up your life, the lives of others and its going to spread to your children and those you minister to.

***angry voices***

Looks like I better get this said before the rocks start flying.

I believe what Christians believe. It’s what my life is founded on.

My Christian faith is like a map. It tells me where I am, who I am, where I’ve been, where I’m going and what it’s all about.

But I don’t believe everything Christians teach. I don’t believe everything I used to believe. Maybe it’s my own critical, skeptical nature. Maybe it’s the “sola scriptura” Protestant in me. Maybe it’s living awhile and drawing some conclusions. Maybe it’s learning something about what matters.

Maybe it’s the Holy Spirit.

Or maybe, as some of you will conclude, I’m some kind of post modern jellyfish who quits the team when things get tough. One of those post-evangelical emerging liberals who prefers a big hug to a good systematic theology lecture.

I don’t understand our loyalty to things that make God so unlike the one who revealed God on earth. Why we take on whole planks of Christianity that Jesus wouldn’t endorse or recognize.

Personal reference. When I discovered that God wasn’t going to stop something that I believed with all my heart and mind he had to stop, I was really pulled up short. My “map” was well worn with 30+ years of telling who I was and what God was supposed to do for me.

And now, I was discovering that my map was flawed. I’d believed it, and I had a choice. I could deny what was happening around me, in me and in others.

Or I could throw out some theology.

That meant admitting some of my teachers were wrong. Or at the least, didn’t know all there was to know.

It meant that some of what I was sure God had showed to me wasn’t God at all. It was me, or someone else.

I was wrong. My theology was wrong. My collection of Bible verses was wrong.

I hadn’t quite arrived. I didn’t have all the answers.

Part of my misery in the situation I was facing was my collection of theology.

There’s a moment when you realize things aren’t as certain as you thought they were. It’s a scary moment, and you want to blame someone. This collection of verses, statements and opinions was supposed to keep this from happening. The right theology was supposed to keep the sky from falling; it was supposed to keep the trap doors from opening up under my feet.

It makes more than a few people angry to hear that following Jesus is less like math and more like white water rafting. It’s less like writing down the right answers to a test and more like trusting yourself into the hands of a doctor. It’s less like standing on concrete and more like bungee jumping.

It’s less like what you think it is and lot more like something you never thought about.

Some of you have been beating your head against the wall of your bad theology for years. You’ve beaten your head against that wall until you aren’t a very pleasant person to be around. You’ve made yourself and some other people miserable. You’ve been like the Pharisees: you gave others the burden you’d chosen to carry and more. You’ve taken your misery and made others more miserable.

You’ve blamed others. You’ve silently accused God. You’ve sat there, arrogantly, insisting that you were right no matter what was happening. You’ve sought out arguments to assure yourself that you were right.

But the whole time, there was the trash, and some of that trash was theology that needed to go.

I’ve thrown out some of my theology, and I haven’t replaced it all. As much as I would like to know the answer to some questions, I’ve concluded I’m not going to know the answer to them all. I’ve concluded that lots of the theology I’ve been exposed to and taught falls considerably far shorter of perfection than I ever imagined. Some of it hasn’t served anyone very well. Some of it was nothing more than my way of jumping on a passing bandwagon.

The other day, someone who knew a bit about me wrote me to question why I didn’t believe in “limited atonement.” He wanted my verses and my theology. He wanted me to debate, and if he won, to adopt his theology.

I couldn’t explain myself very well to this questioner. My reasons aren’t all about verses. They are about who God is; who I believe God shows himself to be in Jesus. It’s biblical, but it’s also existential. It’s about the shape and flavor of truth, not about who wins the debate.

I can’t bend my faith into the shape of a “limited atonement” Jesus. And I can’t explain that. I only know that I needed to throw that away, because it was shaping me and my world in a way that was taking me away from Jesus.

I don’t expect anyone to understand. It’s inside of me that, ultimately, his song has to ring true. If you can’t hear it, that doesn’t mean I don’t. Having everyone else tell me all about the music was taking away my desire to sing. And I am here to sing, not study music.

I’m pretty sure my questioner wrote me off because I wouldn’t sign up. That’s OK. I respect him, but here me clearly: I don’t need my theology — my opinion of my theology especially — to be that important. It’s unhealthy.

I believe a lot of things. I could teach through a course on theology without any problems. But the difference between myself now and myself in the past is that much of that theology is less essential than it used to be. It does not equal God and I won’t speak as if it does. I won’t pretend that my own thoughts about God are the place I ought to stop and announce what God is always thinking and doing.

Hopefully, it’s going to be a lot easier to have a theological housecleaning. In the future, I don’t plan to fall for the flattery that I’ve never changed my mind or said “I don’t know.”

I know. That’s me. The way too emotional, way too flexible, over-reacting Internet Monk. Baptist one day. Calvinist the next. Catholic tomorrow. Talking about being “Jesus shaped,” whatever that means.

And that’s my trash can in the corner, and what you’re smelling is what I finally threw out.

It was long overdue.

By the way, guess what? I’m still here, believing. Following Jesus, loving Jesus, wanting more of Jesus than ever before.

I don’t recommend my path be your path. I only ask if you’ve opened yourself to the possibility that a spiritual renovation in your life can’t keep all the old junk. Yes, you may upset someone or some important, self-validating group. You may, for a moment, wonder if you know who you are and where you are. It may frighten you to consider that Brother so and so or a sincere family member were wrong.

You may not be excited to discover that all that accumulated trash does not equal God.

I hope that soon you are excited. I am sad to see and hear some of you involved with a God that increasingly holds you hostage in a theological extortion scheme.

That’s not the God who came to us in Jesus. It’s not.

There’s more. He is more. Your journey is more.

Comments

  1. Blue Boxer says:

    No one really trashes their theology. It just changes. Your theology is that theology is unecesary.

    • IMonk *never* said that in any of his writings. Even this one. “I believe what Christians believe. It’s what my life is founded on.”

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      Hmmm, I don’t know. When I decide something is no longer necessary I put that thing in the trash [or the recycling]. At which point it is out of my life.

      However, you are correct in a way. If someone asked me what I thought about “limited atonement” my answer would be: “I cannot be bothered to care”. That does reflect my decision [or recognition] that this type of thing does not matter, it has no bearing on anything at all, that it is a waste of time and energy, that it produces nothing beneficial.

  2. Blue Boxer says:

    And unnecessary too ?

  3. Maybe the issue isn’t whether we trash our theology or not, so much as we learn to hold on lightly to it? Whether we end up trashing any of our theology depends, as I think the article indicates, on whether we find evidence against it. I have to say, though, that in terms of evidence for or against a theological belief, the statement “But Jesus isn’t like that!” counts for a whole lot more than any amount of bible verses.

    • Robert F says:

      Problem is, because many folks are convinced that if they don’t have the right theology they will go to hell, they try to build an airtight one, or receive what they think is an airtight one from someone or something they believe has the authority to give it to them, and hold onto it for dear life, even when it’s killing them. If you want to hold onto a theology lightly, first you’re going to have to give up belief in hell (eternal, conscious torment) as the penalty for getting things wrong; things get a lot lighter after that, but it’s a big hurdle for many people.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        > don’t have the right theology they will go to hell

        I don’t know. When pressed pointedly on this issue I suspect the great majority of Christians have a pretty big salvation umbrella. I have even heard some of the [how many times?] REFORMED be unwilling to plant their flag on that hill !!! [and them dudes love to claim hills].

        At the end of the day I believe Theology has more to do with Ego than anything else. Why else would someone on a beautiful spring day, with the birds singing, the local economy buzzing, and 52 taps open, want to argue about, of all things, limited vs. unlimited atonement? Because he [it is always a he] feels they have more esoteric knowledge than someone else at the table. I cannot find another reasonable motivation. It is the same reason I will always choose Trivial Pursuit as the game – because I will always win [I am very honest about my motivation].

        Alchemy faded away, Theology is still with us.

      • I completely Agee with you Robert !,, We get things wrong all the time and Hell is not the penalty. It is our part of the journey we are on based on Love and faith in Christ.

      • Clay Crouch says:

        Well said, Robert. To give those things up, one must come to the same troubling conclusion that Michael Spencer came to: Jesus, not the Bible, is the Logos of God. Isn’t that the lesson we should learn from Dostoyevsky’s Grand Inquisitor?

      • Klasie Kraalogies says:

        I have seen and experienced that. In Calvinist circles, for instance, it becomes justification by belief in justification by faith alone. Meta- faith?

        • Rick Ro. says:

          It really puzzles me how Calvinists can’t see the hypocrisy in that element of their theology.

        • That was a favored way to really stir up a particularly obnoxious opponent within Reformed circles.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Problem is, because many folks are convinced that if they don’t have the right theology they will go to hell, they try to build an airtight one…

        That is almost exactly one guy I know’s take on Mohammed and the origin of Islam.

      • Burro (Mule) says:

        I think Tokah’s take on the Orthodox Church’s refusal to make dogmatic statements about matters of the Faith that are far from cut-and-dried is a great comfort, at least to me.

        Part of me kinda misses the one-and-done say-the-Sinners-prayer-and-avoid-the-oven paradigm. I don’t particularly care for what the Orthodox Church teaches me about what I can expect after I draw my last breath, that the spirits I have been keeping company with during my lifetime are the ones who will be waiting for me after I cross the threshold is not particularly comforting, and it doesn’t appear to be the assurance that upended the Roman Empire and felled the oaks of Thor.

        But damn! if imputed righteousness gives me even less comfort. You gotta be like God to enjoy the presence of God.

        • –> “Part of me kinda misses the one-and-done say-the-Sinners-prayer-and-avoid-the-oven paradigm.”

          Yep. There’s comfort in the “magic” of saying something and knowing you’re then “good-to-go”! There’s great appeal in that, and we shouldn’t be so quick to judge those who hold tightly onto it.

          But it gets back to something I wrote on Saturday: is the “magic” in the speaking the Sinner’s Prayer, or is the “magic” in Jesus’ blood shed on the cross and his resurrection? Jesus didn’t die just so we could turn his death into a magical one-liner.

        • Dana Ames says:

          Mule,

          Agree with you re what Tokah wrote. By the time I was received, I was so tired of believing I had to argue people into loving Jesus – played into the large part of me that has wanted to manage everything. Also agree re imputed righteousness. Even though my last Protestant church was Presbyterian, they were conservative PCUSA and not very “Calvinist”. I was never tempted to join the YRR bunch.

          Don’t forget: if it doesn’t show up in the worship books, it’s not “what the Orthodox Church teaches”. It’s worth considering as ruminations of holy and pious people; it may end up being true after all; but it’s not dogma.

          My belief about what you reference is that it’s how some people have tried to explain what will be the torment we all have to undergo as we see the truth of our lives in the light of the Presence of Christ – and that will come from inside us. So yes, those things with which we have “kept company”, as well as why we thought we needed them, will be shown for what they are, and it will not be pleasant. But it will be for our purification, so that we can see him and enjoy his presence.

          Christ is risen!
          Dana

  4. As I trash wheelbarrow loads of theology the supporting books soon follow.

    • Same here come to think of it. I sold off (or gave away) about 3/4 of my books last year. I actually felt guilty about selling some of then, thinking that throwing them away would be better.

      • It’s immensely freeing. I did it a few years ago. And with the money made from selling them, you can go buy a burrito. And that is life giving and grace affirming.

      • Yeah I’m working my way here to a massive book purge. A Stalinist book purge that doesn’t make much distinction between guilt or innocence. Or to use what is probably a more accurate metaphor, I’m going to prune that bush so it will grow faster and taller.

        • I cut my collection massively over the years – I’ve settled down with Wright, Newbegin, Ellul and Hauerwas, and that should keep me plenty occupied until the Final Exam. 😉

      • Patriciamc says:

        Just yesterday, I put in my donation bag several theology books that survived the major purge a few months ago. One book that got donated yesterday was from Greg Laurie of Calvary Chapel fame. I flipped through the book and at one point just had to laugh. According to Laurie, after Christ appeared to Mary Magdalene, she immediately thought how she need to “tell those spiritual leaders Peter and John.” Now, not only does the Bible not say that she thought that, but at that point, Peter and John were not exactly spiritual leaders. All of the disciples were still in the clueless, bumbling phase. Laurie’s wording struck me as so hokey evangelical.

        I’ll always keep my books by Lloyd Ogilvie, former Senate chaplain. He’s fantastic.

    • When thoughts/ideas are written down they begin to take on an authority all of their own.

  5. This speaks to me so powerfully. As a 68 year old, life has dealt some difficult blows to my family. I’ve felt like my life was yanked inside out at times, and I’ve wrestled with my faith and God during these times. Through the years, my foundation of faith has remained from my youth, but I’ve certainly changed my beliefs along the way. And, I’m at peace with that.

  6. I’ll admit I’m slow, it took many years, but I finally figured out that theology is not the study of God. Theology is the study of what human beings have said about God. Some very perceptive folks, and others not so perceptive, have come out with some really interesting points of view. Heck, some of what they say might even be true! But the reason fundamentalists fear education (but love indoctrination) is the realization that real education removes certainty as a necessary consequence.

    Perhaps the solution is not to give up theology but to have the humility of one of Dante’s Popes, who having spent his entire life working out the complex hierarchy of the angels, died and went to heaven, only to find out his speculations were completely wrong. Dante tells us he thought it was the funniest thing he had ever heard!

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      “real education removes certainty as a necessary consequence.”

      +1,000

      • As Pete Enns (and I) like to say: ‘The opposite of faith is not doubt; the opposite of faith is certainty.’

    • I think it should also be worth mentioning that “the study of God” is impossible. “Studying God” is impossible. It can only ever be “the study of what other’s say or experienced about God”.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        Yep. That particular definition of Theology is obnoxious, and represents well the hubris of those who use it.

      • Of course, the reply will be that the Bible is not just recorded experiences of God, but God’s direct propositional revelation to us.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          WORD FOR WORD in the original Kynge Jaymes Englyshe.

          If you were to offer some of these Christians a choice between the Bible and the actual person Jesus Christ (Eru Iluvatar Himself), which way would they choose? The Timeless Halls of Iluvatar, or their Chapters and Verses?

  7. I’m guessing most of people’s bad theology is really just folk religion brought along for the ride.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      Nah, there is usually some kind of point to what survives as folk religion. A tenant of Folk religion needs to seem cogent and relevant enough to get passed around organically; Theology requires someone to be paid to keep a notion alive [as, left to its natural fate, it would be quickly forgotten].

    • Ronald Avra says:

      That is much more likely than we would like to think. The pond you were spawned in, colours your world.

  8. We talk a lot about tribes and tribalism here. I see theology a lot in the same way. There’s nothing wrong with theology per se – I view myself in the tribe of Protestantism, and more specifically the tribe of the Nazarenes – but I think the danger with theology is people’s tendency to drift into tribalism. Suddenly, I make it “my view of God is right, yours is wrong, which makes you either: 1) lesser of a Christian, or 2) perhaps NOT EVEN a Christian.”

    What I think Michael was addressing in his post was that need to trash our theology when we’ve taken it into tribalism.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      I’ve been thinking about the ex-Evangelical Tribal Dilemma. That potent sense of loss people feel, as something difficult to replace.

      And this occurred to me: It is such an easy tribe to join. If you show up, and say “yes” to a few things – you are in. That alone must explain some part of the intensity of the Tribal feeling. No other tribe is that easy to join, very few other tribes are so clearly delineated. I wonder how many – and I might be in this category – ended up there [in part] because joining was sooo easy [and we might be a bit socially lazy]. It is a tribe within which is it quite easy to just-exist. You can do a lot – at one point I went to church ~4-5 times a week – or you can exist in a wider orbit, but keep saying “yes” to the same things and you are still “in” [the width of the permissible orbit did|does seem proportional to affluence]. No other Tribe to which I belong works quite that same way, in no other is admission so automatic. . .. so, yes, it is difficult to Replace.

      This is sort of tangential to this, or not.

      • I would love to know the percentage of nones and dones or ex-evangelicals as a whole who are first gen vs second/third/fourth gen.

        It’s not easy to join your family, you are born into it. And it’s not as easy to leave your family.

        • Rick Ro. says:

          –> “And it’s not as easy to leave your family.”

          That’s all dependent on the parents and their willingness to let go. Fundamentalists are so controlling that, yes, leaving the family is akin to becoming heathens and infidels. That goes for Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Christians, even secular families (militant vegans, for instance) in which the parents are focused on making sure their child remains true to “the faith.”

          But there are other parents (mine, for instance…and thankfully) who never did push their own faith to strongly. Curiously (and ironically), while children of those parents might indeed drift away, it’s probably EASIER for the children in those situations to return to their parents’ faith!

          • Adam Tauno Williams says:

            > probably EASIER for the children in those situations to return to their parents’ faith!

            Yep.

            The repellent power of “I told you so” cannot be under estimated.

        • Adam Tauno Williams says:

          > It’s not easy to join your family

          The harder it is to leave the deeper the rift will be created when that happens.

        • Michael Bell says:

          Well, you COULD just check my chart for “Religious Switching 2.0” 😀

      • Dana Ames says:

        Not tangential; whatever our theology, we gravitate toward those who hold the same. So there is some aspect of tribalism related.

        Remember, it was not always so easy to join. The very first Christians, being Jews, had a context in which to place what Jesus did and taught, so in the NT it doesn’t look like it took to much time to initiate and integrate people. But not too many years later, the catechumenate was in place. For centuries, Christianity was an initiatory faith; once you were baptized, you were “in”, but if you were an adult, you were taught for up to 3 years and encouraged to start living as a Christian (insofar as one could without partaking of the Eucharist) before you were baptized. The present Evangelical practice is, what, only a couple of hundred years old? And when it began, it assumed nominal or flawed (or, if you were RC, heretical) Christianity, not the complete absence of religious faith. This is another case in which the history of the Church, even at the end of the first century, was ignored.

        Dana

  9. Michael had an almost perfect ability to hit the nail on the head.

    One of my siblings is heavily into a group that believes their theology is perfect and routinely throws other groups of believers under the bus for relatively minor differences. It has turned this individual into a different person and hurt and/or driven away a lot of people. In an ordinary person this might prompt some self-examination, but we have seen no evidence of that to date.

    When your theology leads to pride and to contempt for other human beings, it should definitely be trashed.

    • Rick Ro. says:

      –> “One of my siblings is heavily into a group that believes their theology is perfect and routinely throws other groups of believers under the bus for relatively minor differences.”

      There’s that whole “tribalism” thing. “We are better Christians than you.”

      –> “It has turned this individual into a different person and hurt and/or driven away a lot of people.”

      There are people I prefer not to be around, specifically for this reason. (Of course, maybe they view me as too heathen-isitic to want to be around, too.)

      –> “In an ordinary person this might prompt some self-examination, but we have seen no evidence of that to date.”

      And there’s the real issue, isn’t it? I like to think I’m very self-reflective; in fact, I view many of Jesus’ teaching as, “Rick, time to look in the mirror.” But the more fundamental the person, the less self-reflection. “I’m right” rarely becomes “Perhaps I’m wrong.”

      • So true. To even engage in self-examination is to allow for doubt, and for change. That is not a place most fundamentalists want to go.

        • If you are already at The Truth, then it follows that *any* movement must therefore be AWAY from it. So no movement, not even the slightest vibration, is safe.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            That’s why Utopias (especially forced Utopias) end up completely stagnant.

            Because once you’ve achieved Perfection (Perfect Christian Nation, Perfect Islamic State, True Communism, Republique of Perfect Virtue), any change — ANY — is Imperfection and decline.

  10. Richard Hershberger says:

    Being a cradle Lutheran, the first time I, as an adult, encountered Systematic Theology my response was, well, frankly, “WTF?” It just so much misses the point. But I also spent some years with feet in both the ELCA and LCMS camps of Lutheranism. It took me a long time to put my finger on the difference between the two. That might seem ridiculous: that the two are different in pretty much every way. But they really aren’t. I have heard many a sermon that could come equally easily from either side, and attended a service where I could only tell you which it was by the color of the hymnal cover. And when we discuss theology, we use the same language to talk about the same things the same way.

    So where is the difference? I realized a few years ago that the LCMS and other self-identified “confessional Lutherans” regard the Book of Concord in general, and the Unaltered Augsburg Confession in particular, as a Third Testament. The ELCA regards the Book of Concord as our contribution to the discussion. If it is a Third Testament, there can be no discussion with outsiders. At best there can be a lecture. This is why the LCMS tends toward a bunker mentality, leading naturally to Pharisaism.

    So my take on Michael’s post: I don’t think you have to give up your theology. You have to understand that other people–smart people acting in good faith–have arrived at different theologies, and you can both teach them and learn from them. Use your theology to have a conversation, not to prevent one. I also suggest beer be a part of this conversation.

    • In Reformed/Presby circles, it’s The Westminster Standards (always referred to in the third person and capitalized). PCUSA vs. PCA/OPC/EPCA gets you the same dynamic.

    • Use your theology to have a conversation, not to prevent one. I also suggest beer be a part of this conversation.

      This is really good advice. The first sentence should apply to anyone, but with the second sentence you just shut out most of First Baptist Church. Not your fault.

      The pastor at the Congregational church around the corner initiated an occasional pub theology discussion a few years ago at a popular cafe. But then he’s UCC…

  11. Some random thoughts about all of this.

    First off this post by IM feels like my life. Except I was not so nearly well “churched” as IM.

    Second what was once a “small group” of over 20 families that started 15 years ago or so is down to a core of about 6. And getting smaller. One of the few long timers is one who really wants to debate you on why Calvinism is the only true way. Not always, not in your face, but enough that I think it is a big reason may have left over the years. (We’ve had additions so there have been a large number of dropouts.)

    I’ve seen this play out like YEC. Even when people realize that Ken Ham “science” is hokum they find themselves in a place where to walk away from it means being ostracized by their tribe. And having to admit to themselves that they’ve been stridently wrong. For maybe years. And many will decide to just stay on the ride they are on.

    And to walk down the tangential discussion on the “elect”. I’ve never seen anyone who is a 5 pointer who was sure they were a part of the elect who were not reasonably well off financially.

    • Rick Ro. says:

      –> “One of the few long timers is one who really wants to debate you on why Calvinism is the only true way.”

      I help run a coffee house at our church twice a week. Several years ago a friend from church asked what hours I would be there. I told him, excited that he was interested in participating in the coffee house environment and expanding our friendship.

      He showed up the next week, plopped down at a table, pulled out some sort of book on Calvinism (Piper? MacArthur? Does it matter?), and proceeded to read to me lengthy sections on the theology and why I should believe it.

      After thirty minutes (and his failure to clue into my body language), I said, “You know, I’m really not that interested in hearing any more of this.”

      He gritted his teeth (it seemed to be a combination of bewildered as to why I wasn’t interested and annoyed that I wasn’t accepting it), closed his book and left. He never returned to the coffee shop. Apparently he had only one agenda: convert me.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      > I’ve never seen anyone who is a 5 pointer who was sure they were a part of the elect
      > who were not reasonably well off financially.

      This!

      • **Ouch**

        I also like what David L said about followers of Ken Ham [or fill-in-the-blank], that “to walk away from it means being ostracized by their tribe. And having to admit to themselves that they’ve been stridently wrong. For maybe years. And many will decide to just stay on the ride they are on.”

        I think that’s a good description. When we have a lot invested in something, whether material or theological, the tendency is to keep throwing good money after bad instead of cutting our losses.

    • “I’ve never seen anyone who is a 5 pointer who was sure they were a part of the elect who were not reasonably well off financially.”

      It is fascinating just how much strident Calvinism is thoroughly a white upper-middle-class phenomenon…

      • Robert F says:

        Affluence as the visible sign of an invisible grace? Max Weber wrote the book on that subject.

        • Adam Tauno Williams says:

          Apparently nobody read it.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Affluence as the visible sign of an invisible grace?

          i.e. “I’m RIch, so I must be Elect.”
          Instant Prosperity Gospel — just add Entropy over Time.

      • Patriciamc says:

        Are there any PCA churches in poor neighborhoods? I’ll bet few to none.

        • I attend a PCUSA which is located in a “poor” neighborhood–which pretty well describes the larger part of the town.

        • Adam Tauno Williams says:

          Yes, there are! I had coffee THIS MORNING with a community relations pastor from a PCA church in our urban area – – – and a PCA church that is organizing community conversations around the issues of housing and transportation.

          Crazy! I know.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Remember that PCA is an older denom than all these independent Megas and not-a-denoms.

          It’s hard to maintain that initial One True Way Zeal after a generation or two.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      I’ve seen this play out like YEC. Even when people realize that Ken Ham “science” is hokum they find themselves in a place where to walk away from it means being ostracized by their tribe. And having to admit to themselves that they’ve been stridently wrong. For maybe years. And many will decide to just stay on the ride they are on.

      Sunk Cost Fallacy.
      The con man’s greatest Friend.

  12. senecagriggs says:

    To quote Jerry Vines: “I believe Scripture from Genesis to maps. And where it says ‘genuine leather,’ I believe that to.”
    _____

    My theology will not be perfect, but with my whole heart I believe the 66 books of the Bible are God’s perfect revelation to all of mankind.

    God does not need version 2.0 to accomodate the culture. He’s God; He gets it right the first and only time.

    • Rick Ro. says:

      -> “God does not need version 2.0 to accomodate the culture. He’s God; He gets it right the first and only time.”

      Hmm. Yeah, just like He did when he established the old covenant (1.0 aka The Law), then superseded it with the new (2.0 – aka Jesus).

      Good thing you were born when you were, Seneca. Your head would’ve exploded had you been born during the old covenant and then Jesus showed up! (Mine would’ve, too, by the way.)

      • senecagriggs says:

        N.T. was simply the completion of Scripture Rick

        • Rick Ro. says:

          Not when you lived in 420 BC.

        • Burro (Mule) says:

          …and nearly everybody missed it, including the most spiritual religion on Earth and the most efficient human government.

          A few dipshit ethnic traitors, petty criminals, and hookers had an inkling, but that was about it.

        • Robert F says:

          There was nothing simple about the formation of the New Testament. That’s one of the main reasons it’s not simple to interpret, or understand. If you discovered it in your language while living on a desert island, without any background for understanding it, it wouldn’t make much sense. It needs interpretation. Nothing simple about it.

        • Which also upturned large portions of the OT in the process (Peters vision of the sheet, the entire book of Hebrews, the Sermon on the Mount… etc etc).

          • Good point about the Sermon on the Mount, in which Jesus actually AMPS UP what scripture says with…

            “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder,[a] and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment”

            and…

            “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

            So wait… which scripture is perfect here?

    • flatrocker says:

      > “My theology will not be perfect, but with my whole heart I believe the 66 books of the Bible are God’s perfect revelation to all of mankind.
      God does not need version 2.0 to accomodate the culture. He’s God; He gets it right the first and only time.”

      But after the first 1200 years, wasn’t version 2.0 created with the 66 books (or maybe even 3.0 and beyond)?
      When exactly was the first time and only time God “got it right”

      • –> “When exactly was the first time and only time God ‘got it right'”

        Adam and Eve! Oh, wait…

        Before the Great Flood! Oh, wait…

    • Apparently God didn’t get it right the first time–even in the OT which is effectively a running argument between opposing camps; Prophet vs. Priest.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      > “My theology will not be perfect, but with my whole heart I believe the 66 books of the Bible are God’s perfect revelation to all of mankind.
      God does not need version 2.0 to accomodate the culture. He’s God; He gets it right the first and only time.”

      Don’t X-Treme Muslims say the exact same thing about the Koran?

      Again, once you are Perfect, you must stagnate.
      Because any change introduces Imperfection and Decline.

  13. Rob Burke says:

    My take away from Michael’s post: Having received the forgiveness of sins through ordinary means, we want to deliver kindness, truth, mercy and grace to everyone we engage with. If our theology or differences in theology causes waves in our delivery and participation of Christ’s way of grace, well then its just not worth keeping or discussing. The goal is Jesus’ way, peace and love.