Posts Tagged ‘theology’

I received a comment recently from someone wanting to hear how my faith has been impacted by my journey.  That is a fantastic question, but I’m not sure that I have much of a definitive answer.  I guess the reason for that is because I am still in process.  My faith is still figuring out where to land and is still dealing with the negative side-affects of all I’ve gone through.  So all I can do is tell you where I’m at today.

Here’s what I know:

1.  My old faith is dead.  What do I mean by that?  Well, it means that my new faith doesn’t look like what my old faith looked like.  I literally cannot move in conservative Evangelical circles anymore.  I just can’t do it.  I can’t go to those churches.  I can’t listen to those messages.  I can’t agree with that narrow theology.  It just doesn’t fit me anymore.  Now don’t get me wrong…I haven’t thrown all of those beliefs out.  I’ve just only held on to the core beliefs of Christianity and really don’t even want to get into a discussion about all of those “extra add-ons” that so many churches adhere to.  And most of all, I can’t subscribe to a moralistic philosophy of ministry anymore that is all about trying to make you a better person by doing all the right things and not doing all the wrong things.  I can’t do it.  I don’t believe in that.

2.  My new faith is not “solid as a rock”.  It’s in flux…and I’m perfectly happy with it being “in flux”.  I know more of what I don’t believe now than what I do believe.  I’m OK with things being up in the air…with things not being resolved…with not having all the answers…and with my pursuit of God being more relational and less theological.  I don’t need to be right and I am SO okay with that!

3.  My new faith has a lot more room for people.  There was a time when I pigeon-holed people and put them in categories based on what they believed and how they lived their lives.  Not so anymore!  I now believe in a much-wider Kingdom of God!  I’m not running around deciding who’s “in” and who’s “out”.  Instead, I have become open to seeing how God works in people in so many different ways.  I am ashamed for how much I used to put God in a box.

4.  My current faith isn’t concerned about “getting close to God”.  I used to believe that I was closer to God the more I prayed and read the Bible.  If that is the true definition of being close to God, then I’m failing!  But I no longer believe that is true.  I now see God as being a part of everything, rather than being relegated to a “quiet time”.  I know I am close to God all the time because He’s always with me!  I’m still not really sure how I feel about prayer anymore.  And I’m still not really sure how I feel about reading the Bible anymore.  But you know what?  I’m ok with that.  I know that this is a season…and God is 100% in the midst of this season with me.  So I feel very content hearing a reading of Scripture and reciting written prayers at church services.  Those readings and prayers give voice where I currently have no voice.  I hope that makes sense.

5.  My new faith is just fine…and I can minister from exactly where I stand today.  A conservative Evangelical person reading what I’ve written here might consider me a “back-slidden” Christian, unfit for pastoral ministry.  I beg to differ.  I think I actually have more to offer now than I did 3 years ago.  In fact, I’m able to speak to the millions of people who have been wounded by conservative Christianity and yet who still want to seek God.  So many of us have walked away from the faith.  But I refuse to do that.  God is way bigger than all of that church crap we all put up with.  I have faith, and in many ways, it is bigger than before.

So no, I haven’t lost my faith.  It’s just different.  And I’m very happy with my new faith.  If you want to “correct” me and help me to regain my old faith…don’t waste your time…I’m never going back.  Jesus talked about “new wineskins” and I am definitely into the new wine!

I was asked in a recent comment about how my theology has changed.  What a great question!  I think I can sum it all up by posting a Peanuts cartoon:

I have come to believe that the strongest place I can stand is in saying that “I might be wrong”. 

For most of my life, I have had to be right.  I was trained in the “right” theology.  I was taught the “right” way of thinking.  It was drilled into my head that my theological persuasion was “right” and all of the others were wrong, or at least not quite right.  That is the reason that I ended up in this place in my life!  Being gay was not “right”!

But then I came to realize that there were other theologies out there.  Those theologies used the same Bible that I did to come up with their views.  There were people who used the Bible to prove that being gay was not a sin!  This was so revolutionary for me that I had to open myself up to the idea that I might be wrong…and…they might be wrong!  We ALL might be wrong!  And if that is the case, if there is even the slightest chance that I might be wrong, then that possibility should change the way I think and the way I live.

So now, when I talk about Scripture or theology, I will give my opinions based on my understanding of Scripture.  But I will also admit that I might be wrong.  That one theological option…being open to being wrong…changes everything.  So now I am free to wrestle with Scripture with others and to know that each of us must learn to stand before God and trust that as we read and interpret the Bible, we may be right…but we may be wrong.  So let’s major on the majors and minor on the minors!

I can tell you what I WILL stand on:  loving God with all my heart, soul, and strength, and loving my neighbor as myself.  That is the Jesus Creed…and that is something I know I will never be wrong in if I focus on that!

 

This morning I read an interesting article from Professor Walter Wink of Auburn Theological Seminary.  His is a theologian who, in this article, addresses the “clobber passages” most often used to condemn homosexuality.  This is a long article but easy to read and one I would highly recommend.  Just click the link below!

“HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE BIBLE” BY WALTER WINK

 

Wow…heavy title for a blog post, huh?

Many people who come from a conservative standpoint theologically are wondering where the heck I stand…and they are questioning my standing as a pastor.  Well, I figured I should explain to you how I got here.

Several years ago, I had a crisis of faith.  I began to realize that life didn’t always work out as nicely and neatly as the Bible would purport.  I couldn’t reconcile certain things in the Bible with what I saw in life.  And as I reflected on my own life, I began to see that there were many times that I thought I “heard from the Lord” on important issues…and when I acted on what I thought I heard, life ended up not going the way I thought I had heard.  So I began to question my ability to hear from God.  I also began to reckon on the fact that there were many Christian denominations who interpreted Scriptural passages in different ways.  And ultimately, those Christian groups used the same Bible to come up with their theology as I used to stand on my conservative theology.  We are all reading the same Bible and seeking to listen to the same God…and yet we come up with different answers!  For the longest time, I was taught to believe that one way was right and the other was wrong.  But how could so many people be “wrong”…especially when the way I was taught to interpret the Bible didn’t always jive with the way I saw the world working?  This all shook me to the core and I went through a time when I really wasn’t sure what I believed and what I could trust.

I finally got through that time with a new found faith.  It is a faith that allows for people to have different interpretations of Scripture without me judging them or believing they are wrong.

The clincher came in the past couple of months.  I learned in counseling about “dualistic thinking”.  Dualistic thinking is the lowest level of thinking.  It sees the world in terms of black/white, right/wrong, us/them, good/bad, etc.  Most conservative Christians adhere to that type of thinking…and that is the way I was taught to view the world.  But since I had already gone through my “crisis of faith”, I was able to accept the fact that there is a better way to view life and Scripture than with a dualistic lens.  Maybe the ways I had been taught to interpret Scripture were not correct.  Maybe the other views are just as valid.  Maybe we’ll never know on this side of heaven if we hold the right interpretation.  And because of that, maybe there is no correct way of interpreting Scripture!  (Heresy!)  Aren’t we all just trying to figure it out the best way we can?

So maybe the “other” interpretations of the Bible that don’t condemn homosexuality are valid!  This really got me thinking!

So I studied those other interpretations.  I learned what they are rather than just writing them off.  And as I studied, I came to the realization that those interpretations are just as valid as the interpretations I had always been taught.  And when I compared those interpretations with psychology and sociology, I came to realize that things are far more complicated than I realized.  To write homosexuality off as just a sinful behavior is narrow-minded and ultimately dualistic.  No longer could I hold that view.

So I changed.  I allowed my personal theology to expand to a place beyond where it had been before.  And in doing so, I found that the world makes a whole lot more sense.

That is a very short answer to a long issue.  I’m sure many will have a field-day with what I have just written.  And that’s ok.  I’m not dualistic…I’ll allow you to have your viewpoint and I won’t feel like I have to convert you to mine!

🙂