Adventist Media Response and Conversation

Saturday, February 23, 2008

“Theologolatry”—making an idol of our own theology

The title of this post comes from an article published at Progressive Adventism Blog, The article is a presentation at the 50th Anniversary Question on Doctrines conference by Fritz Guy entitled:

The Saga of Questions on Doctrines and the Adventist Future

I am often troubled by some of the things I read about happening in the Adventists church. In a recent discussion on a forum I will not mention because I think overall the majority of people there are toxic I posted a defense against the claim that Roman Catholics worship Mary. I felt pretty comfortable posting the material from the Catholic church which says that they don't worship Mary yet to the majority on the forum it matters little what they Roman Catholics themselves say but what the anti-Catholics say. Of course to the Protestant mind all the Roman Catholic Mariology is silly, but to these traditional SDA's by saying that Roman Catholics worship Mary and bow and worship idols they move from silly to saying "look if they are not worshiping God they are worshiping the devil." They have moved to take fellow Christians away from the community of Christianity.

How big is your God? Can you serve God if you have some wrong theology, which by the way I can assure you is true of every human being alive from Old Testament to today. God alone is perfect and even when God was incarnate He was hindered by having to communicate to people who were often stuck in their traditions. Think of all those people in the middle ages who only had the words of their priests and the theology of abuse of the rich over the poor. I often think of the two greatest problems in Christianity, the idea of a God who would eternally torment those not saved and the idea that God can't forgive until He punishes someone. Yet in reality there are people who accept and embrace both of those problems and love God and trust Him. Granted I could never believe those things and be a Christian, but I love that God can still develop a relationship with people even when their views are so problematic.

So I am therefore left in the position of saying that God reaches us where we are and while I am sure like any good parent He wants us to grow and mature our retardation does not stop His relationship with us. We are crippled, sick and defective; the kind of people God came to save. But very clearly His salvation has not been by way of excellent theology. The better our theology the more likely we are to see the love that God has for us and the more likely we are going to be to share that love with others. My old internet friend Elaine said in her comment at the above Progressive Adventism blog this:

"Rabbi Hillel was more than correct when he answered the young seminarian who asked if he could recite the whole Torah while standing on one foot, and he said "Do not do to others what you would not wish done to you. All the rest is commentary." But, oh, how the rabbis, both Jewish and Christian, love to argue the fine points of Scripture as if they were of life-saving importance. They ignore the simple to argue the 'finer' points'?"

I enjoy arguing the finer points it is how I get to know people and they get to know me. It is how I sharpen my thinking and how I rethink my positions. It is a fellowship I enjoy but it is not salvation it is only part, a small part of what it means to be a Christian. As Fritz Guy said in his article:

"We can listen to each other even—no, especially—when we disagree, remembering that no one in the conversation is wholly wrong, and that if we are willing we can learn from anyone. We can encourage theological experiments. We can consider new understandings, new ways of thinking that just might turn out to be "present truth" for Adventists in the 21st century."

We grow in the conversation, unless we discount those with different views, unless we accuse them of being of the devil. We live in a world where so many people are in need of someone to talk to about their lives and what is important to them. The Christian church is the ideal place to bring together these people with Christians, Christians who need the interpersonal relations with other people just as much as the person living outside of Christianity. We can fill the void with so many things, entertainments that don't need another person TV, movies, video games, music, drinking or drugs, often we try and fix the symptom but never bother with the disease. We are not offering our fellow human beings the comfort that our God asks us to give them. Christianity is dying because we don't offer a God the loves and we don't love, often we don't even try to show interest.

Someday I hope to find a church family who is interesting in being innovative in putting the simple idea of talking to people, really talking, not saying "how are you today" or "welcome to our church". A church that does not stress passive listening to some Pastor no matter how well intentioned he is drag them through a sermon. A church that leads to people talking and getting to know and love each other whether they agree on theology or not.

That is my dream…or maybe that is my curse I don't know yet.

[In my next few blog articles I will go over the new book entitled UnChristian. I have only read the first chapter but I can tell that the major problem it will reveal is that Christians are losing to the world because we are not showing the love and care that is so needed in this world.]

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