Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Bad theology

Though most Christians do, in fact, profess Christ, many of us also hang on to whatever pseudo-spirituality seems convenient or cute or helpful.

I am reminded of the Christians who devoured the recent series of apocalyptic novels which offered a wild reading of the book of Revelation. I read them, too, so I know how this works. Many of us said, "Oh, I'm not getting my theology from it. I just find it interesting." This is a fine argument, I suppose, but you can make the same argument in all sorts of spheres.

Oh, I don't believe in horoscopes. I just think it is interesting to look at my reading every morning.

Oh, I don't believe in the prosperity gospel. I just think it is entertaining to watch the preachers on morning television.

You see where I am going. It is much easier to believe in convenient theology than it is to believe in good theology, because good theology requires some sort of wholeness, some sort of coherence. It is much easier to believe in convenient theology, because you can grab whatever little piece of theology sounds good for the day. When you're having a good day, after all, God must be blessing you. If you don't get the promotion, well, everything happens for a reason, so there must be something better in store.

And if this cafeteria-style theology were not so insidious, it would not be such a problem. But it is insidious. It infects a person at a particularly vulnerable time--especially when something does not make sense, or when we want to assign meaning to a particular blessing--and grabs hold, such that though God may have healed you from a painful illness because God especially loves you, when the healing does not come (and at some point, for everybody, the healing does not come), you are left to wonder just why you have fallen out of God's favor. Everything happens for a reason is great, as long as things are looking up. But lose a child, and the explanation is simply horrific.

Bad theology is insidious, and yet many of us in the church say, "Oh, it is harmless. Let us worry about more important things," as if there actually were more important things than the work of the living God.

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