Archive for the ‘ Theology ’ Category

You and Me and All of Us

Sunday morning Jud and I woke up early to put the finishing touches begin a lesson we were teaching to the high schoolers that morning. We’d been talking about the lesson for a few days but nothing was on paper yet. I’m very much into having it down on paper, especially when team teaching. There is something about standing in front of a room of people that almost automatically makes every amount of effort I’ve invested slip away into two bullet points. We cracked open our minds and a couple of books and wrote down notes on ‘An Overview of Theology.’

Our target audience was a room of overly tired teenagers who were most likely more concerned with lunch, their own appearance and video games than anything we could ever do in a classroom, including pyrotechnics. But we gave it our best shot. Of course, their responses to our instruction were muted and, I agree that we needed more talking animals and celebrity cameos.

Regardless of their reactions, I appreciated the part where we talked about folk theology the best. What is folk theology you might ask? Oh, let me tell you (and get ready for the fireworks).

Do you know what the word theology means? In it’s most basic form, theology is simply the rational expression of thoughts about God. Except for a very small number of people, frequently featured over on TMZ, pretty much everyone has thoughts about God, even if the sum of those thoughts is to say that the belief in the existence of God is irrational and to land in atheism. The atheist still ‘does theology’ to reach his/her conclusion and as such, everybody is then a theologian. The real question is about to what degree one will do theology. And that is where folk theology comes in.

Folk theology is bumper sticker theology. It is believing in what has always been handed down to you for no other reason than that it was repeated by a person you trusted. It is a theology based in emotion and in general is dismissive of any kind of formal, rational thought. Somehow folk theologians are the ones who seem to garner the greatest amount of attention when they apply the label ‘Christian’ to their terrible belief system. They say things like “God helps those who help themselves” and “God won’t give you anything you can’t handle” and all sorts of things that aren’t actually in the Bible. They talk about Jesus being their ‘co-pilot’ and how their dead loved ones are now ‘angels’. They tend to find these kinds of beliefs incredibly comforting and often cannot be swayed from the beliefs to which they cling.

Folk theology is the very thing I’ve been running from since I learned of it’s existence. It’s what makes Christians seem so patently uncool and so intellectually disingenuous. I can’t pinpoint a time when I have ever been ashamed of Jesus or of the Good News about Him, but I can’t say the same about people who are using His name. There are plenty that cause me to cringe and wish they would be quiet. I always sort of attributed that to being an unkind person, but from now on, I’m going to start laying my finger on what the issue really is; lazy theology.

Bust out the concordances, baby. We’re gonna kill off those bumper stickers one by one.

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Can’t Stop Thinking About This

The other day Jud and I ran across this video. Neither of us have stopped thinking about it.

Balance Beam from Discussion CHS on Vimeo.

Right now our church family has embarked on something terribly difficult. Our current vision is to plant another church in our metro area with about 200. We have over 700 people who would call our church theirs, but due to illness, travel and probably laziness too, we have about 450 people that attend each Sunday morning. If you do the math (and even I can do this one, so I am sure you did too), the plant will take almost half of the people who attend. That sounds kind of crazy, right? It sounds like it puts the existing church into peril. It sounds dangerous, even.

And I have never been so certain that this is the right thing, not just a good thing even, but the best thing. It is going to stretch everyone, from the people who are going to the ones who are staying, everybody will have to change. And the biggest area of growth when you do something hard is almost always in trust. It is growing my faith even now. When questions come up in my mind I have thoughts like “Am I going to like the people who go? Would I rather stay right where I am? Will I have a lot more to do after the plant? Will it change how our family is operating?” And the like.

The answers to those questions can all be boiled down into Francis Chan’s idea. Do I want to live a life of challenge and risk falling off but gain Kingdom rewards? It sounds like a pretty good trade – my life for His.

[And you know I couldn’t put up that link without a caveat. I am the queen of caveats! While I really, really appreciate Francis Chan and most of what he has to say, I am not where he is on salvation. He maintains that believers cannot continue in egregious sin because they have the Holy Spirit. I am positive that you can because 1) if we believers couldn’t sin egregiously, then there would be no need for the epistles because we would just be able to know the right thing to do from the Spirit 2) my own personal anecdotal evidence proves otherwise 3) remember all those Old Testament saints who didn’t persevere to the end? Yeah. Those guys. You can disagree and we can still be friends and all. I might even post a video of you up on my blog.]

Sacred v Secular

If you know us at all, you know how we LOVE theology. It is almost beyond healthy. We parse everything. We expect you to do the same. It’s almost a handicap, but a handicap I nurture and feed and cuddle up to at night.

Why am I reminding you of this? Because of this:

Can you spot what's wrong with this sheet?