Maybe accidentally showing your theology is not as bad as allowing your undergarments to be seen through your . . . overgarments. (Guys, stay with me on this one and add a male metaphor in comments below, please. Seriously, I obviously need your help.) Sometimes, it can actually feel much worse.
Last week in part one, I asked if you've ever tried to hide your theology. In my experience, this is just not sustainable over an extended period time, since we actually live out of what we believe about God and his world. "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it." (Proverbs 23:7)
And now, some statements to consider as I reflect on the book Coffeehouse Theology: Reflecting on God in Everyday Life by my friend Ed Cyzewski. Listen in on how what we think or say reveals something about where our minds are and the place we have given God & neighbor in our hearts:
- RESPONSE: "I'm so glad I accepted Christ and left all that guilt stuff behind. We're all going to die someday, though, and I'm going to enjoy myself while I can. I'll be with Jesus soon enough."
- REALITY: Call it what you like. Platonism, Gnosticism, etc., but these kinds of statements say: "The spirit is good. Body and material things are evil." But the God who took on human flesh in the form of Jesus would have to disagree. On the contrary, Scripture says all Creation groans, including you and me, and that it will be eventually restored. This means our bodies, and our choices, matter now.
Or how about this:
- RESPONSE: "Poor people should get a job, learn some self-respect and stop asking me for handouts. God helps those who help themselves!"
- REALITY: Nearly 100 Bible passages deal with our obligation to serve the poor and homeless and provide for the hungry. World Vision has posted some key verses here. Whatever your political stance, if you're not actively serving the poor in some way, you are likely a victim of a "theology of convenience." This is a wake-up call Ed experienced, and I continue to experience it, too. Gratefully, getting outside of "Americanized theology" and listening to our Latin American or African brothers and sisters can help us to reevaluate how we have allowed our culture to shape our theology, pulling us closer to God's heart for the poor.
So, as you can see, the culture around us, both inside our churches and outside of it, continues to pull and push our theology.
If we approach our study of God prayerfully and faithfully, with ears open to how those different from us interpret God's word, we will continue to work out our faith in a faithful way, becoming contextual theologians. Or, as Ed says, "those who seek to understand God while being aware of the limits of their own context."
Without giving away all of Ed's great content in the book Coffeehouse Theology, I will share these helpful tips:
- Remember to read the Bible being sensitive to the immediate context of the passage and of the reader (that's you!).
- Dig deeper into the world of the Bible to understand the original context of the biblical world using appropriate resources.
- Expand your understanding through the Holy Spirit's leading and your knowledge of Church Tradition and global church perspectives.
With a careful heart and mind centered on Scripture and context maybe the next time someone says "oops, your theology is showing" that will be a good thing. A very good thing indeed.
Next week: A real, bonafide Q&A with author Ed Cyzewski, as he comments as a theologian from "his imperfect and sometimes sarcastic perspective on following Jesus." Seriously, you don't want to miss this!