the fight club...doctrinal correctness
Well, it has been quite the crappy week. First off I hear what happened to Chad Holtz with a post he wrote on the EV site, about what he had lost by loosing hell. Well, the bottom line is, what he lost was his job. This from a pastor who felt transparent enough to share a very intimate part of his spiritual journey. You don't get much more transparent than hitting the " publish " button, and suddenly it's spread every where. I think if we're really honest with ourselves, we all color out side the hard black lines of christian doctrine. I still scratch my head that some of these doctrinal lines were etched some 1,500+ years ago. But because St. So and So thought that's what those bits mean we'll draw a line here. And then St. What's his name said yes, but I think these bits mean this so let's draw another line here. Then they all had a look, and liked what they saw...had a vote. It was basically the law. And, yes, they enforced it. Those who dared color out the lines were punished, and repeat offenders killed.
I know that is rather simplistic, but I think it bears some truth. I'm not a theologian, not seminarian, or a pastor. I was just a pew sitter, I just sort of sat like everyone else and listened to whatever was dished out from the pulpit. There was no real engagement. You just dished it out, we ate it...I don't think you really cared how it tasted, or if we had any questions. But, I didn't just listen to you, I have been reading lots and lots of books, 20 years of one to three books a week. Books from different denominational perspectives on theology, mission, ancient, modern, postmodern. It, in no means makes me an expert...but it does give me lots and lots of questions. I constantly color outside the lines. I still see the hard etched lines of early church doctrine. I respect them, I honor them as part of their journey...it doesn't bother me if people are content to stay with in the lines. What bothers me is the people content to stay in the lines, get very upset about me color outside of doctrinal lines.
Which brings me to another part of my week. A pastor ( whom I won't name ) invited me for coffee because I'm going to be sharing at a church about an inner city street ministry I'm involved in. So he wanted to connect but he also wanted to connect about something I had written on my blog around the concept of hell. As we talked I could really sense is concern, and worry because of what I was trying to articulate. I mean it is a journey. I try to make Jesus the center of my life. Through this intimate relationship, through much reading and maybe not the same as what he is reading...I strive for a greater passion and understanding of his Kingdom. I may not say it the same, it may not look the same because his eyes are focused on the black lines of church doctrine. But, I try to make Jesus the center of it all. Maybe, it's just to much love outside the lines. I remember a few years ago thinking, if I was going to error...it would be on the side of love. If at the end of my life, and I had to face some kind of judgement with Jesus, and maybe if I did go outside the lines...in my trial, I could say if anyone understands it might be Jesus. I'm sorry but if I did error, it was on the side of love. Anyways, after my meeting with the pastor I felt some what ashamed and guilty.
And then also in the week, there was all the shit around Rob Bell and his book Love Wins. Again, another Pastor being overly transparent sharing an intimate part of his faith journey, about where he's at in his faith journey.
I'm really beginning to draw a conclusion. You know those intimate parts of your faith journey where you color outside the lines of the official church coloring book, suppress them, tuck them away and hide them. It's really sad to think that some theological interpretation couldn't have changed in 1,500 years. OH, sorry I'm wrong, remember when we thought having a slave was scriptural ly correct. And how about going to war,preemptive war. What about loving your enemies. What about the environment, global warming. What about the injustice of third world poverty. How does does scripture interpret those global, real time concerns. We can interpret scripture and come up with doctrine to tell you exactly who is going to hell...we are absolutely sure we've got that one nailed down. Don't even try and color outside those lines.
What as really upset me this week, ...is the fighting among the " church ", so called christians as a whole. The gnashing of teeth this week among brothers and sisters has far passed what we might imagine in hell. The fighting and arguing over who believes what. Suggestions that we need an " Alternative Theological Coalition " another a " Alternative Missiological Coalition "...it's a crisis, almost like we've got a radioactive leak that needs to be cooled off. We need to gain control before we have a melt down or " Evangelicalism is cracking ".
Again, it's way to late. Again, I'm just a pew sitter, but, there is nothing left to contain. The radiation has spread everywhere. I toss out a question for Pastors here. Do you think everyone in your church believes " all " your church doctrines? I suspect if you sent out a questionnaire, many would agree out of fear, gulit and shame...and to maintain the status quo. Secretly, their coloring outside the lines...and likely you to if your really honest. Why is it, everyone has to tow the party line...why can't we question?
I have to laugh some what at the church, they get upset at science, evolutionist, that science isn't precise...that they are just theories. But yet, doctrine it's not theory it is certitude. Yet it is taken form bits, and pieces of stories, some historical, some myth and metaphor, but some how we make it absolute truth.
Sorry this has turned into a bit of rant, but, one last thing. Wouldn't you think Jesus, the God-man would have thought, I mean this was the only human directly live wired, not wifi...it was a direct pug to God. You could almost say they were one. If we really really needed to know everything absolute about heaven and hell he would have told us. It seems he was more consumed with this other thing " the Kingdom of God." The guy was possessed by it, consumed, pretty much all he talked about. He really made sure we got the Kingdom...heaven and hell not so much.
Anyway, that's where I'm at. Their world, and our world is falling apart broken and cracked...Jesus wasn't in there directing two way traffic, one lane to hell and another ot heaven. He was revealing and building the Kingdom. I want to be in there with him.
I can't help but think of the prostitutes, the tax collectors, the sinners, Zaccheus, the woman at the well, the adulteress, Judas...I wonder if there in heaven. I can't help think about the guilty criminal on the cross beside Jesus. He said nothing more than " remember me ". Jesus said, " this day you will be with me in paradise."
Why is scripture filed with so much paradox, mystery and surprise...and doctrine, confining, restricting like a dead end road.
I wonder...in our self-righteous certitude whether we'll even find heaven a surprise...maybe it will just be more, a pat on the back and " I told you so."