This morning, a friend of mine posted a link to an article. I hesitate to call it interesting (it was) or well-written (it was, sort of). For me it was saddening. I urge you to go read the article before continuing here. Just click here and it will open in a new window. Don’t worry, I’ll wait.
You’re back! Awesome! Now let’s continue.
The basic premise of this article is that “Progressive Christianity” is sure to become mainstream Christianity in the near future because people are much more enlightened now than they were in the old days. The problem with this assertion is that the writer demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of what theology is and what it is not. The author treats theology as a personal view of God that is malleable and wholly dependent on what a person chooses as right and wrong, good and bad, holy and unholy, etc. In this view, God is what we make God and not what God is without regard to our opinions and/or preferences.
Theology proper, is the study of religious faith, practices, and experiences, yes, but it is primarily the study of God and of God’s relation to the world. Which is to say, theology is the study of who God is and not who we want him to be. This is the problem with Progressive Theology (as well as Green Theology, Liberation Theology, et al.). It approaches the understanding and study of God (and Scripture) with an agenda, as oppossed to just trying to understand who God is – or what Scripture says about a particular topic – without regard to a particular previously held worldview or preconceived notions.
It doesn’t matter if I know Jews or not (I do), or if I am friends with homosexuals or not (I am. It’s impossible to not be friends with homosexuals when you spend your life working in theatre.), or if I am “related to, [share] a neighborhood with, [work] with, or [go] to school with someone who is gay, Jewish, Muslim, Catholic, Buddhist, Sikh, Hindu, Mormon, Unitarian Universalism, Wiccan, Native American, Shinto, Baha’i, Rastafarian, Cao Dai, Tenrikyo, agnostic, atheist, or any combination thereof” (with the exception of Cao Dai and Tenrikyo – as far as I know – I have every one of those covered), the truth is the truth. I can’t reshape it to make myself more comfortable. I am called, as each of us are, to search dilligently for the truth no matter what it is or how we feel about it.
All of that is to say, if the truth says things that make us uncomfortable about the state our “gay, Jewish, Muslim, Catholic, Buddhist, Sikh, Hindu, Mormon, Unitarian Universalism, Wiccan, Native American, Shinto, Baha’i, Rastafarian, Cao Dai, Tenrikyo, agnostic, atheist, or any combination thereof” acquaintances, friends, family (or any combination thereof) are in, then it is our obligation to share the truth with them in love, not to make futile attempts to change the truth so that we, and they, feel more comfortable.
We are unwise to undertake the study of God and/or Scripture with an “Humpty Dumpty” approach.
Alice approaches the wall where Humpty Dumpty rests. They engage in a long conversation riddled with mis-communication before we are made to understand why the conversation is so confusing for us (and for Alice) when Humpty Dumpty says:
“There’s glory for you!”
“I don’t know what you mean by ‘glory,'” Alice said.
Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. “Of course you don’t — till I tell you. I meant ‘there’s a nice knock-down argument for you!'”
“But ‘glory’ doesn’t mean ‘a nice knock-down argument,'” Alice objected.
“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.”
“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master — that’s all.”
And that, truly is the heart of the matter; which (or Who) is master? Your preferences, your worldview, your desires, what you (or I) would like to be true… or what is, in fact true and Who is, in fact, master.