Monday, August 25, 2008

changing my views

I think one constant we Christians should be open to, aside from the essential of our commitment to the faith, is openness to change. Around seven years ago my theology was dramatically impacted through reading N.T. Wright. And due to my Anabaptist background along with discovering that Scot McKnight had a blog, I gravitated back towards my roots.

Around a year or so ago, it seemed like I became a bit stale in my theological endeavor. But recently I've become reawakened to a rethinking of my theological positions.

Theology in a sense, I think, is a second order exercise. One of great importance, in that we are trying to take the truth of Scripture into our world view and let it impact how we're to live. But first order exercise is to be before God in the reading of Scripture, prayer, community in Jesus, good works, and mission in Jesus to the world. I see these as practices we're to be engaged in. The theology comes for all of us. It's simply an expression of what we believe, in words and works. Trying to make sense of it all but seeking to do so with reference to tradition (what the church has taught), reason and experience. None of those are infallible, though they all factor in to our reading of Scripture. After all, Scripture is a human book, though essentially even in that humanness, it is the word of God and therefore infallible, our one infallible source. But necessarily we must engage it through tradition, reason, and experience.

Now, what am I changing? That's the frustrating part, because I'm not all the way where I seem to be going, yet. But I'm headed towards nuancing our existence in the sense that while we're not of the world, we pray that God's kingdom come, his will would be done, on earth as it is in heaven. And that culture, while having plenty of the godless world system in it, is not intrinsically evil (even true of politics, mind you!). Culture also reflects the image of God. God's goal in Christ is shalom, and it's an earthly, material shalom. Yes, we look for a heavenly country, but the end result seems to be the wedding of heaven in the New Jerusalem, and earth together, in the new creation when it's completed in Jesus.

Here are posts worth reading on this, by Michael Kruse, an incessant and excellent blogger, whose steady work over the months is finally getting through to me in some key ways. Not that I understand or follow it all, but there is some really good stuff here to think on in the light of Scripture.

Again, I consider of utmost importance our first order tasks, though the second order stuff should follow.

What might you like to add here? Have you ever felt half-baked, or even up in arms as to what you believe on some issues? Me too.


Litl-Luther said...

There is some good stuff in this post Ted. Though, I'm not sure that the study of theology should be made secondary to the tasks we do. As you know part of the greatest commandment of all is to "love the Lord your God with all your mind". Moreover, Paul tells us that if we are to lead a life “worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him,” it must be one in which we are continually “increasing in the knowledge of God”. Of course, this text also shows that being fruitful in good works is equally important but not more important. Both are necessary in order to walk worthy of the Lord and fully please the Lord. Increasing in knowledge (studying theology) is put on equal par with doing good works in this text.

Litl-Luther said...

Sorry. The text of which I was referring is Colossian 1:10

Ted M. Gossard said...

Ltl Luther,

Lost my comment so here goes again.

I believe one can't get away from tradition, reason, and experience in their first order reading and study of Scripture, and that theology necessarily follows.

I make theology second order probably primarily because Christians are so divided in theological camps. Though if we're Christians we're united in Christ by the gospel.

I agree that loving God with all our minds necessitates theological work, and really all Christians do this, either poorly or well.

Michael Kruse said...

(I posted this comment at my blog but wanted to add it here as well.)

Thanks for the comments and encouragement.

I'm working this stuff out in my own life and expect I will be until I die. What I'm articulating in these early posts is my articulation of the grand eschatological vision. However, how God gets to that vision and our understanding of our role can differ greatly. Thus, agreement on the grand vision still leaves us with considerable room for debate and disagreement on the specifics (i.e., political, ecclesiastical, etc.)

Thanks again for your affirmation and the links at your blog!

Anonymous said...

howdy, ted,

it is drizzly and wet here in the valley this morning. today, my eldest daughter, that just turned 21 on friday, is leaving to return to college. it was sure nice to have here here, in our home, this summer.

ah, changing VIEWS. does that mean no periwinkle blue with flowers?

just kidding.

yes, i believe, in God, and by the Spirit, we are being changed, which includes our views.

me, half baked about issues?

lately...i think, i am being kneaded, and kneaded so much, that i do not feel half baked about issues. (i do not feel baked at all.)

i just want to believe in Jesus and be led by the Holy Holy Spirit of God.

and lately, there is no being up in arms about anything.

again, i seem to just want to believe in Jesus, be led by the Wondrful Holy Spirit of God, and place my focus in Praise of God, and to Live in Him.

it seems, simply, that.

i just want to Love Jesus, and Praise God, and live, being led by the Holy Spirit, until i die.

in this, i think, maybe everything else does not actually take second...

but, that God can work in everything else, and i am not to worry.

i am free to Love God and others.

God's Love to you,

Anonymous said...

Beautifully expressed Nancy! Isn't it wonderful that the LORD inhabits praise and it is uplifting to praise Him!
In our precious Lord,
Deb(Ted's wife)

preacherman said...

Wonderful post Ted.
I think you did a great job with this post.

Ted M. Gossard said...

I do think you have a valid point about thinking that the study of theology should be a first order exercise. It is part of "rightly dividing", or, "handling accurately the word of truth", surely. And your point about loving God with all our minds is so important. And in a sense, the teachings of Christian orthodoxy which the church through the early centuries hammered out in councils from Scripture in response to heresies (e.g., Council of Chalcedon -451) are first order in importance.

What I'm thinking here, and probably not expressing that well, or there is probably a better way to express it- is that theology is worked out through the church as the church fulfills its calling from Scripture. Of course theology in the simplest meaning is simply having an understanding of God's revelation and will from Scripture. So in that sense it's first order. But what the church begins to see over time as it in faith endeavors to fulfill God's revealed will from Scripture is the theology (with gifted theologians like Martin Luther involved) which necessarily must FOLLOW, and in the sense of being a product of that following, I am terming it as second order (don't know if I read this somewhere, but even if I did, I'm probably not doing justice to the author(s) of it).

Ted M. Gossard said...

Thanks for your excellent posts and for your comment. Your doing a great work, brother. Keep it up!

Ted M. Gossard said...

Thanks for your humor and expressing your practice of living in God's love and letting his light shine before others. Definitely first order stuff.

We believe and that means a change of life- actions and words and thoughts, etc., THEN we understand (Hebrews 11).

And blessings on you and your family, and your daughter as she heads back to college.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Thanks. So great to see you leave a comment here, as well as the comment itself.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Thanks for your good encouragement. It's not empty to me, but meaningful, brother.

Anonymous said...

thank you, deb.
it was so good to hear from you!
and yes it is wonderful to me that the Lord inhabits praise. this is becoming more clear to me and knowing this has ment a lot to me.

God's Love to you,

Litl-Luther said...

Thanks Ted! I've enjoyed many things I've read at your site.